Four members of the K.U. rowing team row their boat on a lake in Oklahoma City

Laurel Salisbury (second from the front) competes at the Head of Oklahoma for Kansas women's rowing. 

You’ve seen the cool backpacks, the free Adidas garb, but have you ever thought about what goes into being a student-athlete?

Laurel Salisbury, a junior rower, filled us in on what a typical day is like in her (Adidas) shoes and how being a member of the Kansas rowing team has changed her life.

Salisbury's day starts off by hitting snooze a couple of times to squeeze in a few more minutes of much needed sleep. She wakes up almost every day at 6 a.m. so she can be on time for weight training. Laurel pointed out how she quickly discovered the value of sleep when her fast-paced athletic life moves on such a jam-packed schedule.

 “I love napping, probably too much, so if I ever have the slightest window of time — I’m in bed." Salisbury said.

While the rest of campus is struggling to crawl out of bed for 8 a.m. classes, Salisbury has already finished weights and is on her way to tutoring until 9 a.m. Tutoring is a service required for all student athletes, the Student-Athlete Support Services helps Salisbury organize her goals beyond athletics and lays out the steps she needs to take to achieve them. 

From 9:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Salisbury is on campus and in the classroom, she says she looks forward to the time she spends in between classes at the DeBruce Center.

“It’s a nice central location where we can all hang out, study and eat together outside of practice," Salisbury said. "That’s my favorite part of the day.”

After classes, Salisbury heads to yoga in the afternoon to unwind. 

"There are definitely days that I would love to sleep in, or I would really rather nap or get some more homework done instead of going to practice," Salisbury said. "But I really love being busy and having a packed schedule.” 

This optimistic perspective is key to her success, especially since the team goes through about 20 hours worth of practice and weights each week while in season. 

“I often catch myself thinking I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have people around me going through similar things," Salisbury said. 

She arrives at 3:45 p.m. for her daily practice at the Kansas Boathouse, which goes until 6:45 p.m..

Once she’s finished up with the day, Salisbury and her teammates usually head over to Mrs. E’s for some dinner, where she claims they almost always stay past closing time sharing jokes and catching up on each other’s days. 

Her teammates are the people that she credits for getting her through all of her long days. 

“They are my favorite people ever," Salisbury said. "The team has so many girls with so many different personalities, so there is never a dull moment." 

One of her teammates, senior Reese Arnold, said she believes the bond the team has built makes them closer every day. 

"We all have such a special bond," Arnold said. "I know that these women will be in my life forever."

Although the rowing team does not have many race days a year, Salisbury said that race days are the days that the whole team looks forward to.

“We most definitely practice way more than we compete, so race day is always a good day for us," Salisbury said.

When it comes to race days, the chemistry is important. Arnold says that building that trust is what makes teams great.

"We are not all best friends," Arnold said. "But I think we all trust each other and know that despite it all, we will all come in and give our very best each and every day.

The life of a student athlete, regardless of what sport, is not easy. But as Salisbury shows us, a cheerful spirit and great camaraderie between teammates can make it a lot more enjoyable. 

“I think our sport is unique in that no one really knows how hard we work and no one really gets to see it pay off but us," Salisbury said. "I think the intensity and difficulty of our sport really bonds us."

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