By Mark Etheridge
One of three African finalists in rowing’s 2017 Filippi Spirt Awards, Wits University’s Rain de Jager says being nominated made her even more determined to raise awareness of the code’s appeal.
De Jager was one of five finalists, the other Africans being Mzwandile Sotsaka from University of Johannesburg and Rhodes University Zimbawean Micheen Thornycroft.
‘When I found out that the Wits Rowing Club nominated me for this award, I was incredibly humbled and honored,’ De Jager tells Team SA. ‘Wits Boat Club has always been welcoming to me and have given me the tools to grow as a leader and supported me in growing the club.’
Turning 21 in May this year, De Jager coaches at St Stithians Girls College while she studies for a BSc Occupational Therapy degree at Wits.
‘I fell in love with this sport the moment I started in Grade 8 and not only has it introduced me to other rowers who I now consider family, it has taught me so many life lessons, like dedication, discipline and compassion. As a captain I always hope to pass that on to my fellow rowers.’
De Jager coxed the St Stithians Girls’ College first quad for three years, as well as, rowing herself and was named the St Stithians Girls College rowing captain for the 2014/2015 season.
‘In my second year at Wits, I was chosen as the Wits women’s rowing captain and thus my journey began to grow the club and allow anyone the opportunity to row.’
She’s convinced that the Filippi Spirit Awards nomination will be a game-changer. ‘This nomination for the Wits Boat Club allows us to be recognised internationally, in the aspect of the growth and development of rowing at both Wits and the country as a whole. As a growing club, it also means we’re on the right track and are taking the correct steps into expanding and improving our rowing family.
‘Rowing is a sport for everyone, and making it as a finalist for this award only deepens that belief for me. The sport is made up of so many different aspects, but the most important one is that you enjoy what you do and have fun while doing it. For me, this nomination inspires me to continue growing as a person and a leader as well as inspiring others to do the same. It’s an honor to be nominated for this award as it looks at your character as an athlete and not the level where you are as an athlete.’
Her driving passion is to continue growing the sport. ‘My biggest goal as the Wits women’s captain is to make people fall in love with this sport as much as I have.’