Aparajita Chauhan – Crew Leader

It’s not everyday you come across a South Asian American athlete participating in crew. As a matter of fact, Aparajita is our first and only member to be a crew athlete. Check out what this Yalie and member of the U19 National Crew Team has to say about being a South Asian in sports!

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Current Location: Yale University, New Haven, CT

Current Occupation/Organization: Student, Coxswain on the Yale Women’s Crew team.

What has your journey to becoming an NCAA rower been like? Can you give us a few highlights?

A coxswain is like the coach in the boat- my job is to steer, execute the race plan, keep an eye on technique, and give information (placement, meters, speed) during the race. In the summer of 2017, I made the U19 National Team where I represented the United States at the U19 World Championships in Lithuania, and placed 7th in the 8+.

I coxed all four years for my high school team, Holy Names Academy in Seattle, and medaled three times at Youth Nationals, culminating with a gold medal in 2017 in the Lightweight 4+ event. I was also on the U19 CanAmMex team in 2016, placing 1st against Canada and Mexico. Having the goal of making the National Team pushed me to become better throughout my high school career and helped me to become the top women’s recruit when looking at colleges.

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What is the best part of being a student-athlete? 

You have an incredible support system on the team the second you get to school. Being a student athlete also means that I get to continue the sport I love at the highest level while expanding my horizons in the classroom. I’ve learned to manage my time even better in college because having two practices a day while taking rigorous classes forces me to utilize my time efficiently.

What is it like being a South Asian American student-athlete?

Rowing is a highly Caucasian-dominated sport, so I haven’t encountered many South Asians in my sport. Generally, I’ve noticed a lack of South Asian American student-athletes at my school. For anyone, representing a minority in any field is an honor and a privilege—its natural for others to be inspired by your success—like I was inspired by the upperclassmen I rowed with in high school.

What do you think the next generation South Asian community needs to increase NCAA participation? 

I think it is important for the South Asian community to recognize the importance of sports in earlier stages such as middle and high school. It is easy to get too focused on only doing well in school and clubs, but sports provide important life skills such as teamwork, time-management, and physical and mental discipline. I think many parents fear that their children will sacrifice grades if they focus too much on sports, but the discipline inculcated by sports has benefits in the classroom as well. In high school, I had practice every day after school (and before school in the spring), but was able to maintain my focus in the classroom and graduated Valedictorian.

Do you want to have a career in sports after you graduate?

I am keeping my options open. As of right now, I plan to go into technology and philanthropy, but I know that I can’t stay without crew for too long. I am looking to pursue the USA U23 team so I may end up pursuing the Senior and Olympic teams as well.

When she isn’t practicing with her team, you can find Aparajita on Twitter: @aparajita_ch and Instagram: @aparajita_c

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