Brittney Kelly

On The Clock With Brittney Kelly

May 5, 2010

Brittney Kelly currently is a senior on the Notre Dame rowing team. With her double major in science pre-professional and psychology, she hopes to pursue a career in physical therapy which will keep her connected to athletics even after she graduates. Kelly used to be a competitive gymnast, but switched to rowing and has excelled in the sport, gaining experience both with Notre Dame and in international competition. Kelly recently sat down with to tell us more about herself.

1. What is your major and why does it interest you?
I am double majoring in science pre-professional as well as psychology. I chose these two fields since I think that an important part of medicine is understanding the psychological state of the patient who is in need of care. Often patients may not be able to express their concerns or problems, and a doctor needs to be able to read signals to piece the puzzle together for the best diagnosis.

2. What do you miss most about your hometown?
What I miss most about my hometown is living and breathing Pittsburgh sports. The whole town revolves around the Steelers during football season. Dressing in black and gold on Sundays becomes second nature. When hockey season begins, the town rallies again. Sports for Pittsburgh seems to be one of the greatest ways to bring people from all cultures and races together for one cause.

3. What would you like to do after graduating from Notre Dame?
After graduating, I am going to take a year off of school and train for the Chicago Marathon. I will also be working in a physical therapy office as a tech in order to gain experience before beginning school to get my doctorate in physical therapy.

4. What is your favorite thing about rowing for Notre Dame?
One of the best things about rowing for Notre Dame is wearing the blue and white uniform and rowing with the signature gold oars. It feels nothing short of a privilege. I have the opportunity to represent the school that I love while doing the sport that I love with the teammates that I love. I don’t think a person can ask for much more.

5. What is the worst part about rowing for Notre Dame?

The worst part of rowing for ND is the fact that the weather is often our biggest competition. While other teams are practicing on the water before spring break, we are normally still inside. When we return from spring training in Tennessee, there have even been a few years where we have had to still remain inside. It may not seem like a big deal, but every extra stroke you can take as a team together makes a difference.

6. When/how did you become interested in rowing?
I became introduced to the sport of rowing through a family friend. She had a daughter that rowed and was convinced that I had a good build for the sport and the determination that was needed to push through the pain. After attending a learn-to-row camp in the summer, I decided to go to tryouts in the fall of 10th grade. After making the team, I had a breakdown about quitting gymnastics, which had been my life for 10 years. The coach read my hesitation and told me we would work out a schedule to do both. After one season, I was hooked and loved my coach for understanding that I had to come to the decision to give up gymnastics on my own time.

7. What is your best team memory rowing at Notre Dame?
My favorite team memory was winning the BIG EAST (Championship) for my third year in a row, the sixth in a row for the program’s history. Each year it is expected that we will win again, but each year I am still amazed at how hard the team works and how much we can accomplish together.

8. Do you have any specific role model for rowing? If so, who and why?
My role model is my father. I grew up hearing how he got a scholarship to play college football and I wanted to be just like him. He constantly pushed himself to be successful athletically as well as in his career. If I can achieve half as much as he has, I will feel satisfied.

9. What was your best race for Notre Dame?
My best ND rowing memory was CRC’s (regionals) my sophomore year. All season I had been a part of a boat that on paper shouldn’t have been all that great. We didn’t have the best individual rowing scores, but we did have a lot of heart. Sitting in the boat each day, you could feel that there was something different about the nine of us. By the last race of the season, we had started to beat most of our competitors. In that last race, we gave everything we had, and in the end we won a bronze medal. That was my only regional medal, and I will remember it and the girls in my boat for a lifetime.

10. Do you hold any personal goals for rowing? If so, what?
My only goal for this year was to have our team do well enough to get a bid to the NCAAs. My one teammate and I are the only ones that have had the opportunity to attend, and I want my other teammates to get to experience racing at that level. You can describe how cool it is and tell people about your own experience, but it is so different for them to live it themselves.

11. How does rowing at Notre Dame compare to rowing elsewhere?
Rowing for ND is special in the sense that anyone can row with teammates they love and for a program they love, but few get to represent a school that has such a prestigious national following. People will ask who you row for and 99 percent of the time they will know what ND is and the great sports legacy that it has.

12. Do you have any pre-race rituals/superstitions?
On race day I always have to wear a pink sports bra. Most people say that red is a power color, but for me it’s pink. Even though it isn’t seen, I know it is there and it adds that little extra confidence to push when you hit the wall.

13. What song always gets you pumped up before a race?
Before each race we always watch one of our past season’s highlight videos and then listen to “Here Come the Irish” in order to get ready to compete.

14. Do you still pursue gymnastics at all? If not, what made you switch from gymnastics to rowing?
Given that rowing is a year-round sport, I have given up gymnastics in the competitive sense. It still has a special place in my heart, but once I reached the height of 5-9, I kind of realized that I had probably reached my potential in the sport. I think that this made it a little easier to give it up for rowing, since rowing was something new, and I had limitless potential to grow and succeed. I still have to say that anytime college gymnastics is on TV, I stop everything and watch.

15. What was it like to compete with the United States Junior National Rowing Team?
Racing in Amsterdam, Netherlands for the U.S. was a great experience. The competition was at a level I have never seen before. I remember the first race sitting at the starting line and hearing six different languages being spoken to get the boats ready. That was a big wakeup call that I was doing something that most people can only read about. I still stay in touch with many of the other rowers I met, and I credit the experience of racing with those teams for pushing me to keep setting new standards for my success, as well as my team’s (success).

16. What is your favorite place on campus?
My favorite places on campus are the lakes. I love to get up early and run the lakes while the rest of campus is still asleep. Everything is so quiet and peaceful. It provides a great time for self-reflection and to appreciate the beauty of campus.

17. If you had a sports drink named after you, what would it be called?
Relentless Energy.

18. What hobbies do you have?
Outside of school and rowing, I love to run. I find it a great way to relieve stress. I also love to take pictures and then scrapbook them so that years later I will be able to look back on the important parts of my life.

19. What attracted you to Notre Dame?
What attracted me most to ND was the legacy of the school, the alumni support, and the high academic emphasis that was placed on student athletes. I also thought that the school had a lot of character. Growing up, I was a big football fan, so having a football-rich tradition was a clincher.

20. What is your favorite class?
My favorite class was my independent study on the psychological impact of an injury on athletes. It was cool to tie together both of my majors as well as apply my education to athletics.

— ND —