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Three questions with new SE2 Senior Associate Emily Spencer, who brings insights from competitive rowing

By December 20, 2023January 4th, 2024No Comments

1) What’s an issue you’re passionate about outside of work?  

 Mental health advocacy is deeply personal to me. One topic that’s especially important to talk about is the well-being of women in sports.  

 Having been deeply involved in athletics from childhood through collegiate competition, I’ve persistently witnessed and experienced firsthand the unique pressures that female athletes face. We regularly grapple with the delicate balancing act between intense performance expectations and concerns about meeting body image ideals– two goals that are often at odds when pursuing physical strength. 

 Additionally, we often juggle competing priorities between our athletic careers, personal lives, and professional aspirations.  

 The pervasive pressure to excel while maintaining our mental health at a sustainable level is a silent struggle many of us have faced. Far too often, athletes feel completely isolated when, in reality, these struggles are far more widespread in the athletic community at every level of competition. In fact, the NCAA’s own survey found that 29 percent of participants reported feeling “overwhelming anxiety”. 

 It’s long overdue that we affirm that mental health is as vital for athletes as physical fitness, if not more, regardless of the level of competition. These issues are not only felt by top-tier Olympians who have spoken about their own struggles like Michael Phelps or Simone Biles. By promoting open conversations around mental well-being in women’s sports, we empower athletes to push themselves to perform at their best without sacrificing their mental health. 

2) Tell us about rowing and a lesson you learned from that.   

Rowing has been more than just a sport for me; it’s been a lasting lesson in synergy and provided the framework for how I approach reaching any goal or solving any problem. While individual power and 

efficiency are vital, success hinges on fitting seamlessly into the boat’s rhythm and working as one unit.  

Unlike many other sports, sweep rowing (one oar per person in a team boat) is not known to idolize individual athletes. It’s hard to have a standout athlete when the whole goal is to be moving in sync so that nobody sticks out. The level of teamwork required effectively suppresses budding egos at every turn. And the most successful crews make it look effortless because of their coordination and ability to mesh into one seamless movement.    

The key lesson I’ve taken from rowing is that success is a team effort, on and off the water. You’re accountable not only to yourself but to your teammates who will be putting in their 110% during workouts as well. Rowing has instilled discipline and perseverance in me – qualities that have helped me stay focused and resilient, no matter the circumstances. There is an end goal in sight, even if you can’t see it in front of you yet.   

Ultimately, rowing has shown me the beauty of harmony, where collective effort yields results greater than individual contributions. This lesson informs how I approach challenges in all realms of life, reminding me that by working together with unity and purpose, we can achieve remarkable feats that may even appear effortless to those watching from the outside. 

3) What is one interesting/different thing you’ve noticed as a Colorado newcomer?  

As I enter my third week as a Denver resident, I must say that the most pleasant surprise has been the stereotype that everyone has a dog has really proven to be true! Supposedly, there are more dogs than children (no complaints here).  

My Husky/Brittany mix Mason and I have been putting the nice weather to good use, exploring a few of the different parks around town where sometimes we can spot some grass between all the paws trampling around. The final step toward assimilation? Procuring a Subaru, and then I’m told that I’ll truly fit in here.  

Emily Spencer is from Boston, MA and is now a Senior Associate at SE2.