Dec. 15, 2005
Senior tri-captain Aimee Bourassa jumped out of the pool and into the interview chair to talk to Alli Miller of the UMass Media Relations Department. Find out what it's like being a dual-sport athlete, her hopes of landing a job with a professional hockey team, and what song is playing in her IPOD (it's even on loop).
Q: What made you decide to come to UMass all the way from Canada?
A: Well, I knew a lot of older swimmers that came here, so I always had an interest in coming to school in the United States. I looked up to the older girls on my team, so I wanted to do what they did. It ended up being cheaper to go here than any school in Canada because they don't give athletic scholarships.
Q: Do you plan to stay in the U.S. after college?
A: I'm really not sure right now. I would just like to get a job somewhere. I'm not really partial to either place. I've looked in Canada and the US. I've even looked over in Europe. I probably will go wherever I can get a job right now.
Q: So no plans for next year?
A: No definite plans, no. I would love to start out with a professional team, and move my way up the ranks, but it's a hard job to get and it doesn't pay well, so I don't think I will be able to next year. I think I'll start outside of sport, something that has to do with marketing, and then try to work my way into the industry.
Q: What would you like to do with your sport management degree?
A: Eventually, we're talking about 15 years from now, I would like to work with a professional hockey team in Canada, obviously because I'm from Canada and I love hockey. But I want to work in the front office of public relations. That's my dream job.
Q: What do you miss most about home?
A: I think people back home were more open-minded. I'm not sure if that is the right way to put it or not, but people were less judgmental up there. Of course, I miss my house and my family, but I think I would miss that if I lived two hours away. But the mind set of the people here is definitely different. I would say people in Canada are more accepting of people's beliefs.
Q: What is it like being a two-sport athlete? The most difficult part? The most rewarding?
A: Well, since rowing and swimming are in two different seasons, no practices overlap. I know some two-sport athletes that will sometimes have to go to three practices in one day. Both coaches have been extremely understanding because the sports compliment each other. For example, female swimmers usually aren't very powerful, so rowing helps them stay in shape during the off-season and build up their legs. Jim (Dietz, head rowing coach) is always looking for swimmers because we're accustomed to the water and we have powerful arms.
Q: Which sport do you prefer?
A: I am a swimmer, first and foremost. I really like to row and it's a nice change, but I've been a swimmer my whole life and it is definitely my first love.
Q: If you could play a third sport at UMass, what would you choose?
A: They actually don't have it here, but I think I would like to play volleyball. I mean swimming, although it is a team sport, no one can swim for you. It is you pushing yourself in the water. At UMass, we are very much a team, but the sport doesn't lend itself to team play. In rowing, you have to make sure you are hitting the water the same time as everyone else. If you mess up, you slow your whole team down, just by your performance. But in volleyball, I really liked how everyone had to talk and be a part of a team.
Q: Are there additional pressures to do well being a tri-captain? (Leading by example, etc)
A: Definitely. I know when I was a freshman, I looked up to the captains. I think it's a big responsibility to lead by example, but also lead vocally. I'm always trying extra hard in practice, in the weight room, as well as in school. I listen to everything that Bob (Newcomb, head swimming coach) says, and try to execute everything to perfection.
Q: What has been your most memorable swimming event?
A: In university, when I was a freshman, I swam in the A-10 meet with three seniors. They pulled me aside before the race and told me `This is our last meet, no matter what happens. This is the last time we will ever be swimming, so just think of us when you're swimming out there, and give it your all.' That meant a lot to me, made me feel really special. It made me feel like I was part of the team. Outside of university, when I swam for the Canadian National team, I watched a teammate win her event, and it got me so pumped up. I've never felt that way before a race, so it was memorable.
Q: When did you start rowing at the university? What made you start?
A: I did open water kayaking in Canada, but I never actually rowed until college. I started as a freshman because a group of four older swimmers played both sports, were always talking about crew, and had almost won the A-10 Championship in their division. So myself, and three other swimmers started our own boat, and I really liked it. I already knew how to catch water and all about the timing, so it was an easy transition. It kept me in shape, and I had a lot of fun doing it, so the next year I came back.
Q: What is playing in your iPod right now?
A: (Sings) `Call on meee!' I don't even know who it's by, but I had it on loop because we always sing it in the weight room.
Q: If you're not in the water or doing schoolwork, you are...
A: Watching movies and trying to relax. Sometimes I have trouble sleeping because I have too much on my mind but movies help me relax and go to sleep.
Q: Name some of your favorite movies.
A: Can't Hardly Wait, Romeo and Juliet. I like a lot of epics.
Q: How do you feel about graduating from UMass?
A: When you are in high school, you think you are independent, but you're not because you live with you parents and everything is structured. Then in college, you get a little more freedom, but you still have stable surroundings and you can always rely on mom and dad to bail you out. Now, for the first time in your life, you are really `on your own.' You have to cook all your own meals, you're living all by yourself, and it's a scary thought.