One Last Go-Round for Alitz
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Standing tall at 5-feet, 10-inches, when people see Halle Alitz walking around in University of Miami gear, they assume that she plays for the women’s basketball team.
In reality, Alitz is heading into her fourth season as a member of the Hurricanes’ rowing squad. The 2019-20 campaign is special in that it is the last go-round for Alitz, who will graduate in the spring with her eyes on law school.
“I’m excited for the upcoming season,” Alitz said. “As a team, I want us to do better than we did last year because I definitely think that we have the power and ability to do so.”
Alitz first became interested in the sport of rowing as a freshman in high school, on the recommendation of one of her father’s friends.
“I’m pretty tall, but I didn’t want to play basketball because I’m not the most coordinated person,” Alitz said. “My dad had a friend who thought I should try rowing because of my height.”
Why not, was the mentality for Alitz, who joined her high school rowing team. Getting into a boat for the first time was a nerve-wracking experience for the then-freshman, as the boat felt very unstable. However, it is actually very difficult to flip an eight-person boat, according to Alitz.
As she immersed herself further into the sport, Alitz eventually joined a club team in the Boston area and turned her sights towards rowing at the collegiate level.
“I didn’t know anyone that had rowed at Miami before, but I really liked my hosts that I stayed with on my official visit,” Alitz said. “I liked the facilities and I liked what being an athlete at Miami seemed to mean.”
Alitz has worked tirelessly over the last three years to help not only the Hurricanes succeed, but also to improve individually as a rower. Constructive criticism is ingrained in the nature of collegiate rowing, so Alitz hopes that she has become better at both receiving and learning from the feedback given by her coaches and peers.
The senior will have an opportunity to demonstrate her growth over the last three years on Saturday as the Hurricanes are set to kick off the 2019-20 season when they compete at the Head of the Indian Creek in Miami Beach, Fla. This particular race holds a special meaning for Alitz, as it was the first ever race that she competed in as a freshman.
“Looking back, I was stroking a boat in my first ever race so I was really scared that I was going to mess up, but we ended up doing really well,” Alitz said. “It was awesome to be rowing for a new team for the first time.”
This year will be a little different for Alitz as she has transitioned over the years to sitting bow in the boat. As the last person before the coxswain, the bow seat is tasked with keeping up with the rest of the boat and working to not disrupt the rhythm. One of Alitz’ favorite parts of rowing is the horsepower produced when eight women seamlessly work together.
That seamlessness will be on full display on Saturday when the Hurricanes take to the water for the first time this season, squaring off with Barry and Nova Southeastern. The varsity eights will row at 9 a.m., while the varsity fours will row at 11 a.m. Nerves and excitement will be in the air for Miami’s first event of the year.
“You are always nervous before the first race, but there’s an excitement in seeing how we come together on race day,” Alitz said. “My advice to the new freshmen is to work towards the goals that we have set as a team and to not get too bogged down in their individual performances.”
The Hurricanes are fortunate that their first race of the season comes on their home turf at Indian Creek. It eases some of the stress, especially for the coxswains, as they have a familiarity with the course and know where they have to steer.
On the cusp of the start of her final season, Alitz is ready to finally start competing.
“It’ll probably hit me during the race that it is one of my last races for Miami, but for right now, I’m just excited to start racing.”