Michigan State’s Erica McIntee and Emily Petrosky – Rowing Stories, Features and Interviews

This week’s row2k interview is with Michigan State juniors Erica McIntee and Emily Petrosky. McIntee and Petrosky hosted a fundraiser to honor teammate Olivia Long after she passed away before the start of fall training.

row2k – Can you talk about Olivia as a friend and teammate?

Erica McIntee – Olivia as a friend was someone you were always comfortable talking to. I think it was because she was someone you could trust and had this warm and open personality. Something I really liked was how she brought different girls together on the team so we could all hang out outside of practice. I know she definitely helped me branch out to get closer to some girls on the team.

As a teammate, Olivia was a hard worker. She led by example and definitely showed me that if you invest in yourself, what you expect will come.

Emilie Petrosky – Olivia was the type of teammate everyone strives to be. She remembered everything you talked about and made you feel so welcome. She was a quiet leader and led by example. She always worked her best and she would expect it from you too.

As a friend, she was more like a sister. She could always tell when something was wrong and make sure you were okay, or she could tell when you had something hot you wanted to talk about, and she would let you tell her everything. Like I said before, she remembered everything, and it always made you feel special because she remembered the smallest details. She was always smiling and when she laughed it lit up the whole room.

row2k – You organized a fundraising initiative for a boat in his honor, how did it go?

Emilie Petrosky – The morning after Olivia passed away, I was out for a walk with some of my friends and we were talking about how cool it would be to name a boat after her. After the ride, I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea and knew I wanted to make sure it happened so we could honor it in a way that would endure across MSU Rowing. I talked about it with my parents and they thought it was a great idea. Erica and I met with Coach Kim and explained the idea to her and she connected us with Jack Caporuscio from CrowdPower and we received the information to start the fundraising page. We decided to buy an Empacher because it was yellow and yellow was Olivia’s favorite color.

Erica McIntee – When we all got together in his class, we wanted to do things to honor him in rowing and outside of rowing as well. The idea of ​​getting a racing shell was born. We also made wristbands and hats that all of our teammates wear with the words “Liv On” which just happen to be in her name oLIVia LTOg.

row2k – How did the fundraising campaign go?

Emilie Petrosky – The fundraising campaign went better than expected. We had an amazing donor who matched $30,000 of the $60,000 we were trying to raise. It has helped our fundraising so much and we are very grateful for this donation. Once the fundraiser started, Erica and I were checking the website about every 10 minutes. It was so exciting to see the first $500, then $1,000, then pretty quickly we were down to $5,000. It was unreal to see how many people wanted to help with this project. We received larger donations, but every penny people gave helped us reach our goal. When we started planning the fundraiser, we expected to have two giving periods to be able to reach $60,000, but in just 8 days we were able to reach our goal.

Erica McIntee – Working with the person who helped us organize the fundraiser, they had told us not to expect to receive the $60,000 for the boat. We thought it would take more than one round of fundraising. We were able to get the word out through word of mouth and social media to achieve our goal. We are so grateful to everyone who helped us reach our goal, no matter the amount of donations, everyone made an impact. We couldn’t be happier to have a boat to always honor Olivia, whether in training or racing!

row2k – Are there any other ways your team helps keep Olivia’s legacy alive?

Erica McIntee – We organize other fundraisers such as a 4 on 4 volleyball tournament; Liv had played volleyball in high school before coming to row at MSU. We also sold some of the bracelets we made to the community and all the money goes to a scholarship in Liv’s name. As mentioned before, we have hats that have the Liv On slogan on the back that we wear on the water so we can see her name while rowing. And finally, we make sure to celebrate her constantly, for example, we have already planned a way to honor her for her birthday at the end of March.

Emilie Petrosky – After Olivia passed away, our volunteer coach contacted me about the Spartan Pride Alliance club which Olivia was very passionate about starting. I had also been involved in the planning as an ally, but I knew it was something we had to make sure happened because Olivia was so eager to get it started. Our volunteer coach Maddie Shellgren did a lot of hard work and we were able to get the club started.

row2k – How has the fall/winter been so far and what are your spring goals for you and the team?

Emilie Petrosky – It was a big adjustment in the fall not to have Olivia’s smiley face and infectious laugh in practice early in the morning, but we found ways to feel her in practice. Everyone has had their good days and their bad days, but our coaching staff have been amazing through this whole situation and very understanding about anything we needed. As the weeks passed, we got into a normal schedule, and it started to feel more normal again. Our team did well in the scrums we’ve been in, and I feel like everyone started to fight a little harder and push a little more. I can’t wait to see how this spring goes because everyone is working and giving their all during training.

I am currently recovering from an injury and with the help of our athletic training staff and coaches the transition has been smooth. One goal I have is to be healthy and race in a Big10 boat. Another goal I have for myself is to believe that I can do the splits that I’m working towards for the full workout. My body is capable, but sometimes my mind wanders and doesn’t think I’m capable, which I have to fight and believe in myself.

Erica McIntee – The loss of Olivia occurring just before the start of our first fall practices put the start of practice on hold. All of our coaches have shown their support and found ways to help us during this very difficult time and have given us all time to take life day by day. So after about a week we started our fall training and I honestly think it brought our team together. Those who didn’t know Olivia (freshmen, for example) were so supportive.

During the fall/winter seasons, we really worked on consistency and being able to maintain our splits throughout our plays or even split negatively. Now that we are only on the ergs, our big goal is to row in time with each other. This way, when we get back on the water, we can enter it being connected on our stroke.

Each week we also have a team trait to research. We found attributes that we would find in the “Ultimate Rower”. So for 16 weeks (for the 16 weeks until the B1G Championships), we have a new word at the start of each week that we try to own to help us look more like what we think describes the “ultimate rower”. Until now, we had words like “mental toughness” and “relentless.” Then we announce who we think best imitated the team trait.

My goal for me is to be able to continue breaking through mental barriers. It can be easy during difficult tracks to let my mind wander and not stay focused on pushing myself through each track. I want to be able to focus on one shot at a time and keep a positive mindset while supporting my teammates. You’re in a boat with 7 other rowers, so you don’t just row for yourself, we row for each other and always remember to row for Liv.