Athlete of the Week: Lisette Villarreal

Lisette Villarreal is a junior biology major from Steger, Ill. and she’s a member of the women’s rowing team. Villarreal claimed a second-place finish behind the University of Florida in the novice eight race at the FIRA Championships as a freshman. During her sophomore year, she was named to the SSC Spring Commissioner Honor Roll. She raced with Mikayla Switzer in doubles at the FIRA Championship, finishing third and fourth at the Knecht Cup.

How did you start rowing?

“I started rowing my freshman year when I came here in 2015 and I’d never done it before.”

What made you interested in rowing?

“I was at my freshman orientation in the summer and the rowing team had a table during an exposition of all the clubs here at NSU and one of the players, a soon-to-be senior at the time, approached me and some other people I was with said that we should come to the tryouts to see how it goes. So, I went and stuck with it after that.”

How’s your relationship with your teammates?

“It’s good. I get along with everybody, even though it’s a big team I feel I have a pretty good relationship with everybody.”

What is the most difficult thing about being a student-athlete?

“Sometimes just fitting in all the extra workouts and my work, especially since we race on the weekends. We are gone all those days, so I have to squish all my work in at one time. It’s time management.”

In your opinion, what is one of the most important things a sport teams just like your rowing team needs to have?

“For our sport in particular, I think is more self-discipline, especially when we are training on our own in the summer and the winter. It’s a lot on you, even though it’s a team sport, a lot of it depends on you putting in your own individual work and trying to push yourself. If you don’t have that self-discipline, you are not going to get the progress that you need. … So, the more disciplined you are, and the more everyone sees you putting in that work, that kind of pushes the team.”

How do you think you have grown these past couple of years here at NSU?

“Well, physically, this is the best shape I’ve ever been in in my life. I never thought I would be able to do the things that I do. Especially since it’s a sport where we race, and it tends to be painful  just getting to that point. I never thought I would be able to do that. Also, even though sometimes I struggle with managing my time, it has really helped me be a lot more disciplined and on-schedule in getting everything done in a timely manner. I’ve done sports in the past, but this is more unique because I feel like it has helped me develop my individual sport mindset as well as my team sport mindset because it has helped me with my communication skills with my other teammates. Even though we are not in a field talking to each other, there’s still a lot of communication that is required, even out of the water.”

What are your plans for your future?

“I would like to go to grad school. Where? I’m not sure yet, but I might take a gap year before grad school to be a physician’s assistant.”

Do you see yourself doing any other sport in particular?

“No, I know that once I’m done here I would like to focus more on weightlifting. But, after this, I’ll probably row recreationally, but no more new sports after this.”

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