March 5, 2012
Picture this: you're in eighth grade and you're a star on your travel team. You plan on playing the game you love for the rest of your life, but one day it's all taken away from you in the blink of an eye. What would you do?
For Alycia Da'Loia-Moore, the answer didn't present itself right away either. But she eventually found one that has taken her to the top in a sport she never thought she would play.
After suffering a career-ending knee injury, Da'Loia-Moore had to give up her cherished basketball, along with all other impact sports. After one restless year of not knowing what the future held for her, the former star forward decided to go out for her high school's winter rowing team just to get in shape.
Something happened while spending all those long hours rowing on the erg. She got in shape, but she also found she loved the sport. Without even leaving the gym, without even going out onto the water, she discovered she could have passion for another sport after all.
And she's pretty good at it too.
Last year, the sophomore placed 15th at the Under-23 World Rowing Championships in the single scull event. She made the team on the strength of a dominating win at the World Championship Trials, where she beat her competition by 14 seconds and 60 meters. At Boston College, she was one of two freshmen to row varsity and was named ACC Freshman of the Year.
"It's kind of crazy how it worked out because I was so set on playing basketball for the rest of my life," Da'Loia-Moore said. "After that knee injury, taking a completely different path was kind of nerve-wracking at first. But I found a way to channel my competitiveness that I had in basketball into rowing and it really translated well. I definitely found my passion in life."
As you can probably tell, Da'Loia-Moore's willingness to throw herself whole-heartedly into a new sport has paid off in a big way. It's taken her to the Netherlands for a World Championship, where, at 18, she was one of the youngest athletes to make the trip.
"I met a lot of tremendous athletes from all over the world and just racing there was so awesome," Da'Loia-Moore said, before noting that this race hasn't seen the last of her because she wasn't thrilled with finishing 15th out of 21 rowers.
"It wasn't great but it's a starting point," she explained. "I plan on making the team until I'm not eligible, and my ultimate goal is to make to the top six."
Rowing has also helped her to be a part of a team again. While Da'Loia-Moore, who competed exclusively in a single during her high school career, is the first to admit making the transition to sweep rowing was hard, she loves the experience of being in an eight-man boat.
"It was interesting to relearn the stroke but I really like the eight too," she noted. "It's really awesome to be in a boat with nine other people and feel everyone working together."
That's not to say that any of this has been easy for the Bronx native. As anyone who has suffered a devastating injury like hers will tell you, many things change in the aftermath. For Da'Loia-Moore, her knee injury--caused, in part, by being born with holes in her femur--has led to more injuries, surgeries and disappointments.
After a successful first half of this season, which saw her stroke BC's championship eight in the Head of the Charles Regatta and the varsity four in Foot of the Charles, Da'Loia-Moore reinjured her knee while running stairs at practice in November. She had arthroscopic knee surgery in December and is slated to have it again in two weeks.
Even though there's no timetable for her return and she's about to undergo her fourth knee surgery overall, Da'Loia-Moore is remaining optimistic. She's been riding a bike for strengthening and conditioning purposes, keeping in shape for her eventual return.
Most importantly, she's not letting this setback get in the way of what she called her "ultimate dream." It's been six years since that dream was to play Division I basketball or maybe even professionally, and things have changed since then. Now the dream is to row at the Olympics in either a single or a light-weight double, and she's not about to let anything stand in her way.
"The goal is to definitely make to the Olympics, whether it be 2016, whether it be 2020, 2024," Da'Loia-Moore said.
If anyone's up to this challenge, it's Da'Loia-Moore. When one dream slips through her fingers, she'll never let the next one go, regardless of the trials she has to face along the way.
Written by Jen Dobias