A Stroke of Greatness: Mac

Leanne Yenush

What does #AStrokeOfGreatness mean to you? 

To me, #AStrokeOfGreatness is having the innate desire to keep moving forward. Most of my strokes aren’t perfect but every stroke propels me towards a better me. With each effort, I learn and press on with optimism, zest, and steady perseverance. Adversity can sometimes distract me, but I don’t let it control me.

What type of work went into where you are today?

I didn’t know that the first stroke I took as a timid, novice rower would lead me to where I am today. In training, I learned a lot about rowing but I also learned a lot about myself...like how I respond to my own lack of motivation, self-doubt, fear of failure, pressures to perform… the list goes on. All throughout my athletic career, I struggled with these things but I did not let them control me. Naturally, when you’re out of your comfort zone, adversity surrounds you. I don’t have a fool-proof solution to overcoming these things, but here are a few things that continue to help me: - Keep showing up. -- Simple enough, you’ll never know if you don’t try and you’ll really never know if you don’t show up!  - Permission to make mistakes (and laugh about it): granted! -- I think back to when I was a kid when there was no pressure, no doubt. If you make a mistake, learn from it, laugh about it, and move forward.  - Community is everything. -- When you show up, your people are there waiting for you. Your teammates are with you for every single stroke. Together, we can feel empowered to go further. 

How did you choose rowing?

As a kid, I played every sport. I wasn’t great at everything, but I showed up and was eager to learn - soccer, gymnastics, dance, softball, cheerleading, lacrosse, volleyball, and basketball. My parents were supportive in all of my athletic endeavors, having only one rule: whatever you try, you have to see it through. In other words, you’re going to show up even when it’s tough or when you don’t want to - no quitting! Learning how to keep showing up and giving my best has been one of the most helpful things my parents could have instilled in me at a young age. Over the years, I learned the importance of trying new things, persevering despite adversity and finding purpose through passion. Although taught through sports, these qualities have stayed with me in everything that I do. 

As time went on, being a competitive athlete became a huge part of my identity and when it was time for college, I wasn’t ready to give that up. 

My dad and I researched the rowing team at Rutgers University, the Division One Big Ten state school of New Jersey. I had never rowed before but the idea of learning a new sport and having an opportunity to train at the highest level of college sports was exciting to me.  With an open mind and excitement for the unknown, I committed to the team. As a starry-eyed high school student, I didn’t yet understand how impactful and rewarding this decision would be and I am eternally grateful to my family who encouraged me to take the chance. At Rutgers, I fell in love with the beauty & grace of the sport, the discipline, the grit, the mental and physical challenge, and the special bond formed between teammates. I competed at Rutgers University for 4 years and I helped build the varsity program into a nationally ranked team for the first time ever in school history. 

What is your proudest athletic achievement? 

One of my proudest athletic accomplishments is racing at the 2019 NCAA Rowing Championships. Being on the racecourse with the best rowers in the country was a surreal way to end my college career. I will never forget racing Heats on Day 1. We had a slow start but persisted through, finishing 2nd which helped us advance to the A/B semifinals. After the race, my boatmates and I met up with the rest of the team for dinner. When we arrived, the whole restaurant stopped eating and gave us a standing ovation. I cried. There’s no greater feeling than seeing your hard work pay off and celebrating with your team. 

What sets Hydrow apart from other teams that you have been on?

The support at Hydrow is second to none. Everything we do is a team effort which I find to be empowering. When we have to navigate new waters or find ourselves in the midst of a storm, our team responds with enthusiasm, positivity, and a “can-do” attitude on a consistent basis. My team at Hydrow makes me feel proud of the work I do!

What’s your personal motto? 

My personal motto is “see it through.” 

-- Learn more about Mac here, follow her on Instagram here, and learn a bit more about her workout style here.