Solomon Myers, OMN Photographer
While it may not be easy to juggle the hard work that comes with athletics and the dedication that comes with academic life, Sierra Bishop thinks otherwise.
A senior on the Women’s Rowing team, Bishop has accomplished many things while being a student athlete here at Oregon State University. Her career as a rower, however, had the most unorthodox of beginnings.
“I actually walked on during my freshman year of college,” Bishop said. “I didn’t really know what rowing was until my second half of high school… But I ended up going on an official visit to OSU. Met the coaches, assistant coaches and a couple of the girls on the team, and by the end, the head coach made me an offer. So I was a recruited novice and didn’t start rowing until my freshman year here.”
But regardless of her little experience with the sport up until that point, Bishop was no stranger to the demands that come with playing full time sports.
“I’ve done sports my whole life,” Bishop said. “I did soccer, swim, track and dance all through high school… So sports has always been a big anchoring point for me to be able to identify in a group, but also in an individual sport, and I think rowing brings both of those things together.”
From the moment Bishop walked on, she said her years were spent vigorously training and working hard to achieve not only the goals of the rowing team, but also her own personal goals.
A big one includes competing in the 2021 World Rowing Under 23 Championships, which were held in Racice, Czech Republic.
“It was a long time coming, it feels like,” Bishop said. “My freshman year my coach really saw something in me and I was able to go to an Olympic ID Camp where I got an intro into the U.S. National Team System.”
From there, Bishop went to an Olympic Development Camp to train with 16 other women involved in rowing competitively. And while the pandemic did put a hold on Bishop’s opportunity to compete her sophomore year, Bishop still found a way to train, as Bishop and her teammate trained in her garage six times a week with their coaches on Zoom monitoring the practice.
“I knew I had this last summer to do U23 again so I was like ‘Okay, I have to commit to this and show the coaches that I want this, and maybe next year I’ll get a better shot,’” Bishop said.
And a better shot she got. Bishop, along with about 30 other women, were sent to the Czech Republic to compete in the U23 world championships.
“We crossed that finish line and it was the best feeling ever,” Bishop said. “Everyone in our boat just started yelling and I couldn’t stop smiling. Sometimes I still can’t believe I did that and I honestly don’t think it’ll ever feel real.”
After gushing about the victorious run her and her teammates had, Bishop reflected on the main reason she’s able to keep her head afloat amongst the pressures that come with doing what she does.
“Being surrounded by the class I have on the team has really shaped me,” Bishop said. “There’s so many relationships that have been built with people I now trust implicitly. Everyone has always had the same goal in mind, to reinvent the Oregon State women’s team, and I know I wouldn’t be this successful without my team.”
After graduating in the spring, Bishop has been considering staying for another year to complete her MBA, but later on, she hopes to maybe see another gold medal in the Olympics. For now, she plans to keep on actively participating in school programs, learning and growing in her technique, and developing relationships with those closest to her.