April 12, 2012
The Off the Water series provides a “Getting To Know” piece on members of the University of Notre Dame rowing team in an effort to share with the fans details of what makes each of the athletes who they are outside the realm of competition.
Stella Willoughby is in her first year with the Irish program. The Olympia, Wash., native has spent time in three boats on the season, rowing at times with the third varsity eight, third varsity four and novice eight boats at different times. Here is a chance to get to know Stella Willoughby:
What stood out to you about Notre Dame that helped you know this was the place you wanted to attend?
“Our head coach, Coach Stone, took the time to come visit my hometown in Washington State. To me, this was the biggest aspect of my decision, because Notre Dame came to me, just as much as I came to it. That’s what definitely stood out to me the most.”
When not rowing or taking care of schoolwork, what is the one thing you enjoy doing with your free time?
“I have always enjoyed singing at Church. Church is a huge aspect of my life and so sharing that, and the joy of singing, with others is such a pleasure of mine.”
What is the most peaceful place to go to on campus?
“The most peaceful place on campus is the trail around the lakes. Whenever I am feeling incredibly stressed, a good run around the lakes helps to clear my anxiety immensely.”
What is the best place to eat on campus?
“On campus, I do not think that one place is better than another, however, Chipotle is my favorite, and it resides just off campus on Eddy Street.”
What is the greatest thrill about rowing for the Irish?
“I came from a pretty small club rowing team, so for me the biggest aspect of the Irish rowing program, is the closeness of the team. Our crewmates are supportive of each other, and we treat each other with great respect and love.”
What is the most rewarding thing to you about rowing, in general?
“The most rewarding thing about rowing is the feeling you get when you cross the finish line. Rowing is not a very popular sport, and is does not have a professional team, but when you gut it out for the whole race, knowing that you gave it your all, that’s when your love of rowing is most prominent.”
What makes the group of girls on this team special?
“Like I said before, the closeness of the girls is fantastic. We are all in this together, and that knowledge supports one another in more than one way.”
Was there any one person who was inspirational/motivational to you being where you are today and if so what was the best piece of advice they offered up to you?
“Besides my faith in Jesus Christ, the most inspirational person in my life is my younger sister. I may be older than her in years, but she is one of the wisest people I know. Her best advice to me was when I was at an all-time low point in my life, and she said that I needed to love myself. She told me that I was always loving others, and that’s great, but that I needed to love myself as well. Her advice kept me from making some stupid mistakes, and for that I am forever grateful.”
If you had to choose between watching your favorite movie or listening to your favorite CD which would you choose and why?
“Although I love both movies and music, I would choose to watch my favorite movie, `A Walk to Remember.’ This movie is about a girl who loves life even though she has little time left on earth due to leukemia, and her strength and innocent wisdom are astounding. I love this movie, and I always am reminded of her character, and how those characteristics can be evident in my own life if I try.”
Growing up, and maybe even still today, what was the one type of cereal that you had to have and why?
“My absolute favorite cereal is Reese’s Puffs. To this day, although I try to eat healthier cereals, it is still the most addicting breakfast food in the world.”
If you were trapped on an island, what are the three things that you would need to have with you and why?
“I would want a machete, 20 feet of rope, and matches. The machete can be used to break open coconuts, and prepare other foods, as well as provide protection. The rope would be used to help make a shelter, as well as to traverse the island for food sources and such, and the matches to start a fire. It’s important to have a fire, so you can cook, keep warm, and signal to planes, boats and others that you are there.”
If you could have dinner with any three people, dead or alive, who would you choose and why?
“I would choose to dine with Thomas Jefferson, Socrates, and Jesus Christ. I would want to talk to Jefferson to fully understand his opinion of our constitution, and have him fix the political problems of America today. Socrates would be such a character to get to know. His world views on all things are so twisted and yet logical, so it would be an honor to delve into his mind for a night. And Jesus, since He is the most important figure in my life, would be the greatest dream come true to have dinner with my Savior. “