G’day guys, I’m Kathleen Hanson, rising Junior at the University of Miami, on the Women’s Rowing Team. Since beginning rowing at age 12, I immediately fell in love with the sport and knew that I had found my passion. This passion led me from my hometown of Melbourne, Australia, to the US which has been a dream of mine from a young age.
In fall of Sophomore year I was completely out of commission due to a condition called costochondritis. Fast forward to spring semester (we compete year round), and after months of resting and rehab, I was eager to get back in the boat. The pain and discomfort was still there, but I wasn’t too concerned about it, adopting the classic, “it doesn’t hurt too much” mentality. Right in the middle of competition season I found out I had 6 stress fractures in my ribs, and a high level of calcification in my chest. This meant I wasn’t able to do any physical activity or even carry my backpack around school until they healed. I had to learn how to breathe again because I had trained my body to compensate to remove the pain. I was advised that had I continued, broken ribs and internal damage was inevitable.
This injury, while incredibly disappointing, given a strong start to my college career the year prior, saw me develop a level of trust and respect for my body that I had definitely neglected for the past 20 years. It’s so common in highly competitive environments to push small injuries to the back burner in order to ‘prove something’. In reality, it’s the decision to take a step back in the early stages of an injury that will make you stronger. I couldn’t have gotten through this setback without the help of my teammates and coaches, so I’m so grateful for them. This overuse injury by nature, has shown me that it’s ok to be vulnerable, and if things don’t feel right, to stop and get them checked out, no matter how small they may be. At the end of the day, you have to be your own advocate, and being a strong advocate is the most crucial factor to success.