Yes Movement

May 13, 2014

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By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. ( – Genevieve Lorbergs is a ‘yes’ person. It’s what has allowed her to cross the globe to live in another country. It’s what has allowed her to set out on a path that will see her earn two degrees before reaching the age of 25. It’s what has allowed her to migrate from the sure footing of a tennis court to the rolling waters of Lake Pickett.

“You never know what’s around the corner, and life is very exciting in that way,” Lorbergs said. “Everything you do in life, you should say yes to the opportunity because you just gain a lot more and develop more as a person.”

Growing up in Melbourne, Australia, Lorbergs had three athletic older brothers whom she liked to emulate. Her tennis career began at the age of 5 in her backyard with her father.

“He was throwing tennis balls at me and he realized, hey this little girl has something,” she said. “Every time, I would hit the ball right in the middle of the strings.”

She began lessons and stuck with it. Australia’s university system does not provide the opportunity to play tennis, so she started looking into pursuing a degree overseas after a friend supplied her with a list of the top 120 universities in the States.

She sent out emails to coaches. Some replied. Some didn’t. Florida’s warm weather and beaches were enough to draw her in to picking UCF.

“The team that I first came into my freshman year was very welcoming. I was on the opposite side of the world. I didn’t know anyone when I came here,” she said. “I didn’t know what to expect but it just made that transition very easy for me – just having girls on the team that were very close to me and I could ask them for anything. I think I transitioned pretty well.”

She played at the No. 1 slot for UCF her junior and senior seasons, making history as the first Knight to earn All-Conference First Team honors in 2013. With 22 singles wins to her name that year, she propelled herself into UCF’s record book, ranking among the top 10 leaders for single-season victories.

The seed to take up rowing was planted by UCF senior woman administrator Jessica Reo, who serves on the NCAA Division I Rowing Committee. While attending a match one day, she off-handedly suggested that Lorbergs’ physique would make for a good rower.

By NCAA rule, a student-athlete is allowed a fifth year of eligibility in a different sport after completing four years in another. When Lorbergs stumbled upon the information, she was intrigued by the idea of extending her collegiate experience.

She reached out to UCF rowing head coach Becky Cramer, who brought her out on a boat to observe a morning practice. Lorbergs was also put to an erging test, and despite having never rowed in her life, her numbers were good enough for a spot on the team.

“Rowing is very taxing on the body, mentally and physically. Tennis can be very physical but it’s more of a mental strain because it’s tactical in trying to figure out the other person,” Lorbergs said. “There’s a saying, ‘Rowers do more before 9 o’clock in the morning compared to what most people do in a day.’ I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to the early mornings, but I’m loving it.”

Even if the early mornings are tough on her sleeping schedule, she hasn’t allowed it to affect her studies. She was the recipient of UCF’s American Athletic Conference Institutional Female Scholar-Athlete Award in February that awarded her a post-graduate scholarship.

She is currently pursuing a master’s degree after graduating with her bachelor’s degree in psychology in May 2013. She enrolled in the sport and exercise science program – a course load that usually takes four semesters to complete, but she is cramming into three in order to graduate this coming August.

“Entering as a freshman, if you would have said, ‘When you graduate, you’re going to be on the rowing team, you’ll be a scholar athlete, you’ll get your graduate degree,’ I would have said, ‘Ha! That’s funny,’” UCF’s former tennis letterwinner said. “It’s been an exciting experience.”

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