Alyssa Vasiliou is a junior at Syracuse University and a member of the Women’s Rowing team. She holds the integral position of coxswain, which has the responsibility of facilitating communication between rowers, keeping pace, and steering the boat throughout the race. As a college athlete, Alyssa knows the importance of staying healthy and fit. She shared a few of her tips with us on how she stays healthy on campus!
What is your favorite healthy meal to eat? Is there any specific diet you have to keep as part of the team?
“I’m a huge salmon person, it’s easy to cook and so good for you. During the week you can probably see me eating a salad because they’re so easy to put together and take to class. Salads don’t have to be boring; there are so many variations with the different vegetables and things that you can throw together! For coxswains, we are required to be somewhere in-between 100-115lbs due to the fact that the rowers are literally carrying our “dead weight” down the course. For the rowers, our coaches ask that they maintain a certain BMI and ingrain the idea that our team needs to be lean, strong, and healthy. They are asked to restrict processed foods and excess amounts of sugar. Our coaching staff has been really supportive with getting people the help they need to be healthy athletes. We have a nutritionist who has come in to talk to us.”
How long does your season go and what is a misconception about rowing?
“Our season runs from September to June but spring is our main racing season. We spend our time in the fall and spring on the water and use our tank during the winter. Think of the tank as a giant pool with a stationary boat in it. The misconception about rowing is that the sport is all about your upper body and arms but in reality it is your entire body, mainly your legs. The lifting sessions are definitely important as they’re going to make sure that the athletes have the ability to get their legs down and push their blades through the water.”
Do you have any favorite health tips you always abide by?
“I try to avoid processed food in general. When I go grocery shopping I mainly buy fruits and vegetables that I cut up at the beginning of the week and split into containers so I can grab and go.”
What is the best part of being an athlete at Syracuse and what are some of the things you do in your spare time?
“I love being surrounded by a group of women who are mentally and physically driven to work together to complete goals. So much of what the rowers do is mental and their drive is amazing. Not only in races but their discipline in general in terms of what they can and can’t eat and what they have to sacrifice to be good athletes. The team inspires me everyday with the goals that are becoming realities. And also the fact that the team makes Syracuse a little smaller, it’s a family. Rowing does take up a lot of my time during the week so to unwind I hang out with friends for the most part.”
What is the hardest part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and being an athlete on a college campus?
“The industrial food system is more practical than it is healthy. So for freshmen and the sophomore athletes who choose to live in the dorms, eating in the dining halls is a struggle. Living in an apartment I would say that the hardest thing is time management. Food preparation takes time and planning and when you’re going at a thousand miles per day and don’t have the time to do so, it sometimes can just be so much easier to grab a bag of chips or fast food.”
By Courtney Rosser