Kristin DiJosie graduated in 2011 and rowed all four years of her collegiate career with Ohio State. She served as a coxswain for the 1V4, helping the Buckeyes to a Big Ten Championship in 2011. Off the water, she earned CRCA National Scholar Athlete, Academic All-Big Ten and Ohio State Scholar Athlete recognition.
Kristin earned a degree in Sport Leadership and Humanities from Ohio State and is now a high school athletic director in Washington. Learn more about her experience with Ohio State rowing and how it helped her get to where she is today in the letter that she penned for this edition of Where Are They Now?
Being an athlete – at any level – can teach you many life lessons, including teamwork, commitment, time management, and discipline. For me, rowing was my sport of choice.
Gaining exposure as a 7th grader, I quickly learned that I would rather spend my summer evenings on the water, shooing off green-heads and attempting to perfect my technique. The welts from the bug bites were not the worst pain I experienced as a 95 lb 14-year-old trying to beat my teammates’ erg scores.
It was not long into my freshman year of high school before my rowing coach pulled me aside and said, “You know you are going to be a coxswain, right?” I did know that my size would likely not earn me any other seat in the boat, but I was still learning a lot about the coxswain role and I wanted to be able to relate to what I was talking to my rowers about.
Fast forward 15 years and you can find me today at a high school in Washington state attempting to help other athletes find themselves in their sport and use their passion to help set them up for their own futures. Unfortunately, our high school does not offer rowing, but you could make a lot of money by betting on how often I find a way to relate my experiences in my sport to what these high school students are going through as they compete against their cross-town rivals and plan to earn a college scholarship.
Being a coxswain in high school helped open the door for a scholarship opportunity at The Ohio State University, earning me a spot on the Varsity Rowing team. While I balanced a full-time course load, rowing, and a part-time job, I quickly learned what my priorities were in my life at that point in time. Waking up to be ready for 6:00am practice meant finishing my school work before I left for work in the afternoon, or making sure I had time after work to complete my tasks before my eyes grew heavy and I needed to call it a night. Planning food for my day was crucial as well, because if I needed to run straight to class from practice or to work from another obligation, I needed to be prepared.
As I planned for what I would do after graduation with a Bachelors Degree in Sport Leadership and Humanities, I found myself working in a gym in Portland, Oregon. I made some connections in the local area and quickly found myself coaching rowing at the high school level. Through contacts at the rowing club, I met the head rowing coach at the University of Portland and began volunteer coaching with their program.
Having been used to a jam-packed schedule in college and being physically active, I found myself talking to friends at the gym who introduced me to competitive Body Building. This quickly became my new avenue to fuel my competitive nature. Call me crazy, but I still wasn’t busy enough. Working, coaching rowing, and competing as a Body Builder didn’t feel like enough. I wanted to go back to school for my Master’s Degree so I could become more heavily involved in College Athletics.
I pursued my Master’s Degree in Intercollegiate Athletic Leadership from the University of Washington. I was able to land internships with the University of California at Berkeley’s rowing team and then back to work with the University of Portland’s rowing team until graduation. I gained a ton of administrative experience in the sports world and knew that I would only be happy with a career related to athletics.
As a recent graduate still living in Portland, Oregon, I learned that my brother decided to also attend the University of Washington. I moved to Seattle to be closer to my uprooted family and quickly made some connections, again, in the rowing world. While coaching a Master’s program just north of Seattle, one of my rowers mentioned knowing of a job opening at a local school district. The school was seeking an Athletic Director for the high school and middle school in the district. It was a very competitive interview process, but I believe it was my experiences as an athlete and coach that helped my stand out of the bunch.
Without the life-skills I learned from more than half a lifetime of rowing, I know I would not be where I am today. Taking that first step in becoming an out-of-state collegiate athlete helped me be brave when taking on new challenges. I learned to not be afraid to fight for a position I believed I deserved. I was empowered by the strength that my coaches helped me find within me and realized I could face any obstacle that came my way.
Rowing looks like a smooth, graceful, relaxing sport. Anyone who has ever raced in a competitive heat in a regatta can tell you that it is quite painful, often stressful, rather loud, but so rewarding. Learning how to work together as a unit – 8 rowers and a coxswain – and achieving a common goal is honestly one of the best feelings I have ever experienced.
My teammates and coaches have supported me along this amazing journey that took me from a small town in New Jersey to find myself in an amazing, rewarding career in Seattle, Washington. I feel prepared to lead a team of coaches and athletes from my school district to be their best selves and continue on toward wherever their journey is taking them. Without the experience of being on an amazing team to teach me how to become the best coach I could be, I never would have been able to feel confident in the role of an Athletic Director.
Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way, but a special thanks to my teammates, coaches, and support staff at The Ohio State University.