July 25, 2012
BERKELEY -By Tim Migiuel - Cal Athletic Communications
From the moment Shay Seager first watched a California women's rowing practice, she knew that was where she belonged. Then a sophomore, she quickly rose through the ranks to become a member of Cal's varsity eight boat. Today, Seager is still just as sure of what she wants to do.
Rowing at Cal helped inspire Seager in becoming the kind of person she is today. She is striving to continue that inspiration both with her individual athletic goals and helping improve the overall health of others.
In the time since she graduated in 2010 with a degree in conservation and resource studies, Seager earned certifications in personal training, nutrition and yoga instruction. Seager is currently expanding her work as a health consultant in conjunction with getting a reforestation project off the ground before attending grad school next year. She hopes to return to Cal and get her Ph.D in microbiology, which would help her contribute to creating a healthier global ecosystem and sustainable food systems.
Currently residing in Arlington, Va., Seager's fond memories of being an undergrad and rowing at Cal have been a major influence in her desire to return to Berkeley.
"Cal is a wonderful place to explore your passions and make a difference in the world," Seager said. "I am looking forward to being in that inspirational environment again. Berkeley is also an athlete's playground; you can do just about everything there. I love cycling in the hills, running the trails, swimming in the pools and, of course, there is no better place than Briones Reservoir. I will also be close to my family, all of whom live in California."
Seager hopes to get back into athletic competition once again, whether it is rowing, triathlons, running or cycling. In fact, Seager was on a triathlon team when one of her teammates encouraged her to check out the Cal rowing team.
Unfortunately, before she can return to the competitive arena, she needs to recuperate from her current condition that is known as Overtraining, which is defined as a physical, behavioral and emotional condition that occurs when the volume and intensity of an individual's exercise exceeds their recovery capacity. It leads to the decline of strength and fitness. Right now the plan for Seager is to create a strong foundation of health and rebuild her base of endurance capacity. She said overtraining is particularly difficult from a mental aspect. Thinking at first that her condition was all simply mind over matter, she would push herself more, only to realize her body was breaking down. It got to a point where Seager was too sore to get out of bed and could not keep food down.
As she continues to train and get healthy, Seager uses the guidance that Cal head coach, and 2012 U.S. Olympic assistant coach, Dave O'Neill taught her while she rowed at Cal.
"Dave is a really amazing coach, he gave me the right perspective and I achieved a lot under his guidance and training plan," Seager said. "When I was left to my own devices I was too obsessed with the goal and I buried myself. Dave told me three things while I was at Cal that I am still trying to implement - patience, keep it simple and get out of you own way. Currently I know that what I am doing will get me back to elite level fitness, but I have `let go' of the goal. I am just keeping my head down and training smart."
Seager mentioned that one of her favorite memories at Cal was the bond that was created between her and the rest of her teammates. One of Seager's teammates whom she helped create that bond with was former coxswain Jill Costello, who passed away from lung cancer in June of 2010. The team's bond, and in particular the varsity eight boat that Seager rowed on and Costello coxed, was never stronger than during that emotional 2010 campaign.
Just being in Costello's presence was incredibly inspirational and motivating for Seager and the rest of the Bears in 2010. Seager remembers doing 2ks on the erg with Costello, and it amazed Seager how Costello would take the time and energy to train with her despite her health issues, even on her days off from training.
"Jill created a new standard I hold myself to each day," Seager said. "Staying passionate, dedicated, positive, patient and focused even when things seem overwhelming, chaotic, out of control, frustrating, confusing and unjust. The hardest thing for me to do is not react but move forward purposefully and with faith, always asking the best of myself. Jill did that even when things didn't go as expected or test results were not positive. She didn't waiver and her goals are still being achieved. She is still inspiring and creating a positive change in the world."
With so many goals and aspirations athletically and academically, Seager is grateful for everything she learned and experienced while being at Cal to help equip her for what she's currently trying to accomplish.
"Expectations are high while you are at Cal and even higher while you row at Cal," Seager said. "My experiences at Cal created a foundation of work ethic, time management and determination to achieve that I am so grateful for. Cal challenges you to be a critical thinker, which I cannot overstate as the single most important thing I got from my degree. It has helped me in every conversation and every challenge. There is nothing more valuable than a questioning mind."