Rowing Silent Waters

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Up before the sun rises and on the water as the sky changes colors. Rowers like Sarah Faust know nothing better than this kind of 5 AM wake-up call.

Several regattas a season pay off for the CU Women’s Crew team‘s hours of early morning workouts on and off shore. But this team takes bonding and connection beyond their competition, and have come together to help one team member through a life-changing transformation.

Screen Shot 2017-04-27 at 12.17.59 AMWhen they CU Women’s Crew team hit’s the water, Faust sits stroke seat up front, and carries the boat’s pace and rhythm. Yet Faust makes this look easier than it is – as she is a deaf athlete.

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Sarah Faust

Sarah was born with minor hearing issues, but after a head injury that occurred while loading up after one days crew practice three years ago, Sarah lost the remainder of her hearing. Between learning sign language, training a service dog, and mastering lip reading, all aspects of her life had to shift.

Faust tells NewsTeam Boulder, time and time again, that she couldn’t have gone through this time without the assistance of the crew team… or as she calls them, her family. Her coaches, coxswain, and almost all of her 40 fellow teammates have learned at least the basics of sign to communicate with Sarah on and off the water.

Screen Shot 2017-04-27 at 12.18.16 AM“This ‘family’ takes steps to make you feel included…. To make you feel like that’s your home that’s your safe place, and for me that was them learning sign …and making sure I didn’t feel like I was stuck in this little deaf bubble alone,” Faust said.

Sarah and her coxswain, who sits at the head of the boat and shouts rowing commands, have created a series of signs so Sarah can lead the boat in first seat. She balances lip reading, while watching officials flags and signs, making sure her pace and technique are all in check.

“I’m in charge of everyone else following me, so I can’t mess up. If I mess up, I mess the boat up and I mess my whole team up. That’s a lot of pressure,” said Faust.

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But through thick and thin her entire team, including head coach Chris Rinaldo, have thrived off the opportunity to bring the team closer and push Sarah harder each day, “I got really lucky during my tenure as coach for the team to have a lot of really strong leaders and also imparted their desires to succeed and to do it in a fun way throughout the rest of the team. All of Sarah’s team mates really support her accommodations to find other ways to communicate.”

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