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Q & A with Suzanne Van Fleet

Q & A with Suzanne Van Fleet

May 26, 2008

Suzanne Van Fleet is a senior on the Clemson rowing team. She is a member of the Varsity 8+ crew that will compete in the NCAA Rowing Championships this weekend. Suzanne has had a very successful career at Clemson, twice being named to the All-ACC team. She is the first rower from Clemson to be named to the United States National team, and she competed in the U23 World Rowing Championships held in Scotland last summer. recently caught up with Suzanne to get to know her a little better.

When did you begin rowing? How did you become interested in the sport?

I started rowing when I was a sophomore in high school. My sister rowed for Ithaca College, and I wore one of her USRowing shirts to school one day. My friend who rowed for Wilmington Youth Rowing Association (a club in Delaware) suggested I try the sport, so I did. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I never wore that shirt to school.

Why did you choose to come to Clemson?

I wanted to go down south and when I visited the school everything clicked. They showed a lot of interest in me, which was very encouraging.

What is your favorite Clemson tradition?

It may not be a Clemson tradition but hey, why not? Throwing the coxswain in the water after a big win!

What is your favorite part of being a member of the Clemson rowing team?

My teammates.

What is the most memorable moment of your rowing career?

This is an easy one…taking Clemson Rowing to the NCAA championships for the first time in history! This is something I will hold onto for the rest of my life.

What has been the best part of this season?

Being able to set the foundation for the future of Clemson Rowing. It was really interesting to see how we achieved our goals this year – we didn’t talk about them day in and day out, but we knew what had to be done…and it happened.

What are you most looking forward to about the NCAA Championships?

I am looking forward to the whole experience. I am so happy that we earned this opportunity, and I am not going to take anything for granted. I can’t wait to race hard and see what happens.

What are some of your hobbies?

I love doing anything by the water, listening to new music, walking dogs/ going to animal shelters, and teaching kindergarten.

What is your favorite tv show?

Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe

Who do you admire most on the team and why?

I’m not going to single anyone out, because they all inspire me equally. We wouldn’t be going to the NCAA championships if it weren’t for the rest of the team. I admire every single person that has dedicated themselves to our goals.

What has been your greatest accomplishment as a student athlete?

I really surprised myself with how well I was able to handle the academics with my schedule, and still excel in rowing. It may not have been the most “typical” college experience like many of my peers had, but it was very meaningful.

Who has been the most influential person in your life?

There are a lot. My oldest sister Alison, my cousin Kelly, and my best friend Annie. Alison received a liver transplant when she was my age, and my cousin Kelly passed away from cancer last spring. They both stayed extremely optimistic during their struggles, and taught me to appreciate everything in my life. Annie has been my support system from day one. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

What is your best non-athletic talent?

I can eat incredibly fast!

Something most people don’t know about me is….

I have a past career of professional dog walking and I am aspiring to be a certified skydiver.

What is one thing you would like for people to know about the sport of rowing?

Getting up early in the morning for practice is not what makes rowing hard. Waking up in the morning is the easy part.

What are your plans for life after graduation?

I will be in Clemson this fall, student teaching and helping out with the novice team. When I graduate in December I am either going to move to Princeton, NJ and train with the national team, give coaching a try, or get an internship with Childlife. The Childlife program would enable me to work with children and their families in the hospital system.