It's 3:30pm, the last bell of the school day rings, dismissing students from their classes for the afternoon. Shorecrest senior Julianna Wright makes a mad dash for her car, driving to Tampa for crew practice. She laughs, "Every afternoon you see me run from the parking lot, do a quick change, and then go hop in a boat. I'm sure it's kind of funny to watch!"
Julianna first got interested in rowing in 2012 while watching the London Olympics. "At that point, I was very into soccer. I played defense--I wasn't that fast, but I was strong and aggressive on the field." Because of her passion for soccer, Julianna was very excited to watch the US soccer team compete in London. While watching the soccer game, a preview of rowing flashed across the screen. "I wondered, 'Who the heck rows? That sounds so dumb--there are motorboats for that!'" But after watching the US team compete, she knew she had to try the sport. "I thought, 'It's actually kind of cool that you have these eight women in a boat and they're doing this one thing together.' When my mom came home that day, I told her that I really wanted to try it out." And the rest is history!
At five feet, four inches, Julianna is a bit on the short side for a rower. When asked about this, she laughs, "I started rowing when I was twelve, and we were all anticipating that I would grow a little bit more--I was on track to--but I didn't. I kind of just stopped growing." She doesn't let that stop her, though. "It is kind of fun to be the runt on the team!"
And her small stature gave her a competitive edge this spring. Julianna primarily races in a boat with seven other rowers, but this spring she decided she wanted to try to compete in the Florida all-state competition as a single. There are two classifications for singles--heavyweight (over 130 pounds) or lightweight (130 pounds or under). "Most rowers are tall and muscular, and I've embraced heavyweight all four years, even though I only weigh 125 pounds, but for my single race, I really wanted to race people in my weight class."