TAMPA, FL -- The water gives Holly Drapp all the feels.
“There’s nothing that beats just being on the water and being totally immersed in that feeling,” Drapp said.
The water is where she found herself. Her athletic self.
“I am abnormally tall,” she said. “I’m 6-1 and very strong built. The second I was in a boat, I just never looked back.”
Rowing crew appeals to Drapp’s competitive and analytical nature. It’s equal parts therapy and workout.
“It’s one of the most peaceful, yet one of the most adrenaline oriented sports,” she said.
The Strawberry Crest IB graduate tried basketball, tried volleyball, tried the sports suited for her height. But it wasn’t a court or field that made her feel at home.
“I was tall, I had potential, I tried a lot of sports, but nothing clicked for me,” Drapp said. “I always thought I was uncoordinated and lanky, but the second I was in a boat, I just found myself.”
And soon, she found herself across the country on the West Coast. When it came time to pick a college, Drapp looked at a lot of East Coast schools, the Ivy Leagues. She ultimately took her crew talents to the University of Washington.
“I knew I wanted to go away for college,” she said, “I just didn’t know that was how far I wanted to go away until I was there.”
Drapp made herself right at home at Washington, helping the Huskies win a National Championship.
“I felt empowered and obviously a sense of accomplishment,” Drapp said, “but what was most important to me, becoming National Champions, it wasn’t something I could have done by myself.”
That sense of empowerment has Drapp spreading the gospel of rowing to anyone who has never tried it.
“You’re missing out on the most teamwork oriented sport, a lot of fun, as much hard work as you want to put into it,” she said.
And for Drapp, rowing provides a sense of enlightenment and a springboard for anything she decides to do next.
“I learned that I’m capable of so much more than I thought I would be,” Drapp said. “There’s things that I’ve done in high school and college and who knows what the future has, but there’s things that I’ve done that I thought I would never be capable of.”