Five eggs, Oatmeal, Peanut Butter, Apple Sauce, Bagels and Chocolate Milk, and all
that's before lunch! That kind of a hearty meal is routine for young Canadian Alicia
Piazza, who wakes up at 4:15 a.m. every morning to practice, putting in as many carbs
as she can into her morning meals as she prepares for the physical demands of being
a high performance rower. Looking forward to participating in the 2017 Canada Games,
Alicia took out some precious time from her rather fervent schedule to shed some
light on what inspired her to take up rowing and how challenging the experience
has been for her.
"As a child I was always the energetic one. I wanted to try every sport and be on
every sports team at school. At the open house for my high school, I signed my name
on the sign-up sheet for every sport there was to offer. The rowing booth had an
ergometer (a rowing machine) which I got to try out. The coach told me the level
of commitment and work required for the sport and it sounded more challenging than
any of the other sports at the high school. That's when I knew rowing was for me,"
"I started training with the older girls, and to my disappointment there was only
one other grade nine girl who didn't quit after the first week of workouts. She
had prior rowing experience and was much bigger and stronger than me. My first year
of rowing in high school I was told I was only big enough to be a coxswain, and
that would be the most suitable position for me in the boat. I quit that year because
all my heart desired was to be a rower. I told my Italian family they had to start
giving me bigger portions of pasta so I could make the rowing team the following
year, and I did!" Alicia added.
Her inspiration has been her Nono (grandfather), and whenever she faces a challenge
in life, Alicia thinks back on the life her grandfather built since coming to Canada
and draws instant inspiration.
She said, "My Nono moved to Canada with his two children after his wife passed away
in child labour and built a life for them from nothing. He was the hardest working,
most stubborn person I had ever met in my life. I spent every day with him growing
up and I wanted to be just like him. He got very sick when I was in high school
and had to be in the hospital quite a bit. He lost circulation to both of his legs
and had to get them amputated one shortly after the other. My Nono could never walk
again yet he still remained himself. He did not let the challenges he had to face
in life bring his spirits down, he still had his sense of humour and he didn't lose
his outgoing personality, despite the fact that he could not walk. He taught me
that you can build yourself up from the bottom if you work hard enough. He taught
me to never give up and to always make the best of any situation that life throws
Talking about her passion, Alicia added, "The sport speaks to me in a way I cannot
describe. If I am having an off day and I am tired I think about all of my accomplishments,
all of the hard work behind me and to never give up. All it takes is a deep breath,
and close my eyes for a second and imagine myself rowing a perfect stroke. After
that I am back in it."