My name is Allie Robins, and I am proud to say that I am a Mathews/Mobjack rowing alumni. To summarize my entire rowing career in a brief synopsis (where it’s taken me, who it’s connected me to, and how much it has changed my life) would be nearly impossible. I don’t know that my words can even come close to describing in detail the sweat, pain, tears, blood, and time I’ve poured into this sport for ten years. However, I’m hoping to give you a glimpse into the magic that Tim Ulsaker has created at Williams Wharf over the decades. It is his continual love and dedication to Williams Wharf that has changed literally hundreds of lives.
I first was exposed to rowing when I was seven years old; I would go to Williams Wharf and Occoquan to see my older brother and cousin compete against AA and AAA schools on a weekly basis. I remember thinking how cool it was that they brought home medals each weekend, listening to how they beat huge schools like T.C. Williams, Thomas Jefferson, and Woodbridge. I remember promising myself that I would one day do the same thing, and do it well.
I began rowing for Mathews/Mobjack in eighth grade and continued through my senior year. Over the course of five years, I won multiple state, national, and international titles with my teammates under the coaching of Mr. Ulsaker and Mr. Vernon Rowe. As co-captain of the team my senior year, I received a full scholarship to row for Division 1 University of Tulsa. My scholarship totaled over $200,000, not including living expenses, books, etc. I majored in elementary education with a double minor in English and Spanish, graduating magna cum laude with a 3.9 grade point average. In my rowing career at Tulsa, I was a Conference USA Academic All-American for three years, team MVP for two years, and team captain my senior year. My junior and senior year, I helped lead the varsity eight to win our conference championship. I trained six days a week, with early hours and late nights. I traveled to many places for regattas including Nebraska, Texas, Kansas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Boston, and Canada to name a few. I not only had to travel and compete at the highest level of college athletics, but I had to maintain my grades all at the same time. Below is a typical schedule of my life as a collegiate rower:
4:30 am-6:30 am Morning Practice (Water, Erg)
6:30 am-7:30 am Visit my trainer (Treatment)
8 am-12 pm Classes for the day
12 pm-2 pm Lunch, nap, homework
2 pm-3 pm Visit my trainer (Treatment)
3 pm-7 pm Evening Practice (Water, Weights)
7 pm-7:30 pm Ice bath at training room
7:30 pm-10 pm Grab dinner, shower, start homework
10:30 pm Go to bed! (Often staying up all night to do work, papers, etc)
I was responsible for going to class, doing the work, and turning it in while maintaining my position as a leader on my team. I had an academic advisor and free tutor to help me when things got tough…time management was essential! I was also a member of the Mortar Board, Student Education Association of Oklahoma, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I volunteered a lot of my time with my church in Tulsa as well. Upon graduation in 2009, I returned to Mathews, and was hired within two months to teach sixth grade English in the middle school I attended as a student.
I can say without a doubt that one of the biggest reasons I am where I am today is due to the continual determination and commitment of Tim Ulsaker to not only develop excellent rowers, but to shape young men and women that will contribute to society successfully. Over the years, he has taught me about responsibility, perseverance, and how to firmly stare adversity in the face, and beat it back with sheer guts. What he’s given me can never be paid back, however, it is my hope that I can pass on his wisdom to my young boys and girls in my classroom every day. So often I find myself referencing rowing, stories of my past, and lessons that he taught me in my daily lessons, and I think to myself, “this sounds like something Mr. Ulsaker used to say.” For that, I will be forever grateful.
After ten years of rowing, I have settled down in New Point, Virginia with my husband Joe and seven month old son, James Walter. I coached the varsity basketball team at Mathews for three years, and I am currently in my fourth year of teaching English.