MONARCH Q&A: Lady Monarch Rower Gia Thompson

May 05, 2010
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

May 5, 2010

Old Dominion University sophomore rower Gia Thompson joined recently to discuss her life as a Lady Monarch student-athlete and beyond. Thompson tells us how she had no rowing experience prior to Old Dominion and gives insight to her life on and off the water.

How did you get into rowing?
I didn't know anything about rowing but I had a class with (team captain) Liz Hess. She started telling me how they were racing - not trying to sell the program, just telling me about the things they did - and told me I should try out and I really liked it; but I had no idea what rowing was.

You have danced and taken Taekwondo for a number of years; did anything about these two activities prepare you for rowing?
Definitely. For Taekwondo it was the leg power and strength. From Dance I brought endurance. I never used to run, but I run all the time now and that experience helps a lot.

You are a local girl from Hampton, how often do your parents come to your regattas?
They came to Occoquan, and will probably come to Philadelphia. They are both really supportive coming out to see my races since they are only like 30 seconds long.

How challenging was it to go from individual activities to a team sport?
Very challenging, doing individual sports I was a little more selfish, but rowing is a really team-oriented sport so you need to be in sync and connected. If you aren't in sync, you can see that in the boat. You need to have a team that carries a positive attitude.

What is the most important thing about rowing?
Making sure you get on the bus on time! If you're missing one person it really throws the boat off. Technique is also really important. You can be as strong as you want to be but if you don't have technique the boat cant help you.

Describe a typical practice?
We start by stretching, then we go get our boats in the water. We usually practice drills and work on techniques. Wednesdays are fun, because those are Smack Down Wednesdays where we race each other.

Regatta's are all day events; what do you do in your downtime while you wait for your next race?
Sleeping, getting your mind right, staying off your feet and out of the sun. Keeping hydrated is important.

What team do you feel has been your biggest competition on the water?

How much does mental strength play into a race?
It's the number one priority. If there is any tension or conflict outside of the boat, it carries in and can get you off track. It's also really easy to get distracted with the scenery around you.

What was your best run and/or your fastest time and where?
Occoquan - we won the petite finals. That was our best run even with all the transitions we were going through.

Do you always row in an 8 boat or have you ever rowed a 4 person?
I have rowed both. I personally like the 8 better, because there is more energy amongst your teammates in the boats.

Do you have any special gear you wear out on the boat for the race?
Just our uni's and not anything else to make a lighter boat. A hat and shades are important to protect from the sun glare.

Rapid Fire
What was your favorite race you have participated in? Occoquan. It was our first race of the season so everyone was pumped and ready to race.
Favorite color? It changes everyday based on my mood but mostly yellow
Favorite movie? Forrest Gump - everyone always laughs at me but I could watch it again and again.
Playing on your ipod? Beyonce
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate
Pepsi or Coke? Neither, I don't drink a lot of soda but if I do it's Sprite.
If you could be any Disney princess who would you be and why? Jasmine. She had a tiger and the genie, the palace and a great guy. It was the dream life.