Athlete Focus: Emory Oakes Signs National Letter of Intent to Attend SMU

national letter of intent emory oakes smu signing photo blog header

Emory Oakes is a senior at Lincoln Christian School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Three years ago she decided to become a part of the Tulsa Youth Rowing Association. This weekend Oakes will sign her National Letter of Intent to attend S.M.U. this coming Fall.

This accomplishment is significant for Emory and is a benchmark that reflects all of her hard work and dedication. Her journey is a testament to the life changing experience that rowing can provide.

We asked Emory to reflect on her journey so far with the club.

Why did you try the summer camp when you first learned about TYRA? What driving factors made you start rowing?

I began taking a few Row House classes at the end of my freshman year.  I connected to TYRA through the encouragement of one of their coaches. She said I could be a rower, and she was right. I attended four Learn To Row camps during the summer and haven’t looked back!

How have you grown as a person and an athlete during the three years you have spent with TYRA?

Over the past three years, I have grown athletically and mentally in training for this sport. I have bettered myself and gained new strength each season. I have also had the privilege to be a teammate with some amazing people who helped me along the way to become the person I am today.

What do you enjoy most about rowing and being a part of TYRA?

I enjoy the team aspect of TYRA. Racing in boats together and traveling as a team created the most amazing memories. Competing and fighting for our goals and then celebrating is better as a team!

What challenges did you face, and what has the sport of rowing taught you about perseverance

With every sport comes challenges. For me, the mental aspect of it has been something that I’ve had to walk through. Dealing with the failures of not PRing or placing as high as I’d hoped at a race has been very difficult. But over the years, I’ve learned to be grateful for these moments because it makes me more hungry to do better next time.

What would you say to someone to persuade them to try rowing?

Rowing is a sport that requires so much of yourself- time, energy, patience, determination, and dedication. But it also gives you back so much more than you put into it. 

tulsa rowing nationals qualifiers 2023 with head rowing coach

What are your plans at SMU now that you have reached this important milestone?

It is a special time at SMU, and I am grateful to join the Mustang rowing team! I’m excited to row against some of the best teams with the move to the ACC and cheer on the other athletes on campus. I love the school, coaches, and team culture and can’t wait to contribute what I’ve learned from TYRA. I’ll major in Applied Physiology and Sports Management and continue my education in Physical Therapy after I graduate.

What is your favorite rowing story?

flipped boat with dad

My favorite rowing story is when I got to take my dad out on the water for the first time in a double, and he flipped us! Then, when he tried to get back in, he flipped us again. We had to go to shore to get back in the boat. By the end of the row, the boat was filled almost all the way with water. Also, winning Central Districts in my single was awesome too!