SE: Rachel Haskell Balances Rowing, Collection of Campus Commitments

It’s about 7 a.m., the sun has barely peeked over the trees at Tuttle Creek Lake, and K-State’s rowing team is going through a routine practice. Excitement isn’t exactly capsizing the group.  

Then there’s Rachel Haskell, an energetic redshirt freshman who’s basically the human form of coffee. 

“She definitely brings a good characteristic to 7 o’clock practice. You don’t want everybody to be tired and dragging, so you need someone like that,” said assistant coach Beth DeMars. “She’s very energetic. At 7 o’clock in the morning, not everybody is quite that energetic and she is, so you’re just, like, ‘OK, this is Rachel Haskell.’”  

Haskell is more than energetic, however. Much more. 

She’s highly involved in her sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, serving as the personal and chapter enrichment chair. Her main responsibilities include bringing in speakers who can “enrich” her chapter, along with helping plan a Founder’s Day event. 

She’s a member of Silver Key, the sophomore honorary group on campus. Not only is she a member, Haskell is also president of the group she hopes to organize toward a sizable community impact through service projects for the Manhattan Emergency Shelter and raising awareness about homelessness in Riley County. 

She’s part of the leadership team for Student Mobilization, a Christian-based, on-campus group. This, she said, allows her to grow spiritually and become surrounded by a solid community of students. 

Then there’s Wildcat Buddies, one of Haskell’s favorite philanthropic activities. The program pairs K-State students with special-needs adults in the Manhattan community through Big Lakes. Haskell’s “buddy,” Amy, has Down syndrome, and the two have become quite close since being paired. “She’s just the best person ever,” Haskell said. “I have such a great relationship with her.” 

Not to be forgotten, Haskell is a full-time student studying kinesiology, pursuing a minor in leadership studies on top of being a second-year rower dedicated to helping her team. 

How does the Prairie Village-native keep from sinking from the weight of all of her commitments? Simple, at least for her. 

“Time management and just wherever I am at that time, putting my full self into it and knowing that I need to put everything else I have for the day behind me,” Haskell said. “I’m not stressed out because I’m just focused on one thing at a time. If you start thinking about everything, then it’s really easy to get overwhelmed, so I just to try to put everything I have into whatever I’m doing at that time.”

In August, Haskell was one of three undergraduate student speakers at the New Student Convocation, where she shared her experiences with freshmen. 

“That was just an awesome experience to be able to reach out to such a large number of people and to be able to tell them why I love K-State and how it’s made an impact on me,” said Haskell, who also emphasized the importance of “giving back to others.” 

The way Haskell sees it, simply being part of something isn’t enough. There’s so much more to be gained with an all-in mentality. 

“If I’m in my sorority, I’m not going to just wear the T-shirt,” she said. “I want to be part of it and I want to be able to make the best impact I can on it. So that’s something that I strive really hard to do.”

This is evident to those around Haskell. 

“Everything she does, she puts 100 percent into it and she is always going to be ready to go,” DeMars said. “I don’t know how she does it, but she’s definitely very involved and very dedicated to everything.”

Haskell’s high level of involvement isn’t exactly new, either. 

At Shawnee Mission East, she was a member of National Honor Society, Young Life, Community Service Club and FCA, starting up service projects and other philanthropic events within these groups. She also competed in volleyball, basketball and track, earning multiple letters in each sport.

For Haskell, being part of a team and having a competitive outlet has always been important to her. It’s why she jumped at the opportunity to continue both in college when rowing entered the picture. 

“It just sounded like an opportunity that I didn’t want to pass up,” said Haskell, who’s gained a new perspective on what it means to be part of a team. “You want your teammates to work hard because you’re all in this together. Everyone is in a boat and they all have the same goal. You want the person in front of you to be just as good and you want them to push themselves. I had to learn how to push others and to be pushed by my teammates just to all better ourselves.”

During her redshirt season, which includes zero racing but also more free time, Haskell was able to branch out on campus for involvement opportunities. Meanwhile, she learned the value of patience in waiting her turn to compete and how to juggle an abundance of commitments. 

“You just have to adjust to that, make the best out of it and have a positive attitude about it because it’s really easy to get down,” she said. “But if you just stay positive about it and know that you’re going to better yourself each time you go into a workout, I think that’s something that really helped get me through.”

Through K-State Athletics, Haskell has also been afforded opportunities to give back to the community through activities such as Cats for Cans, Cats in the Classroom and helping with the Special Olympic Clinic, which her “Buddy” Amy was at. 

“I got to hang out with her at that, so that was fun because it kind of brought athletics and my outside involvement together, which I really enjoyed,” she said. “That was something that was really special to me.” 

Haskell’s investment in the community and the university follows the rowing team’s ideals that go beyond 7 a.m., practices and competitions.  

“We really like the whole team to be involved in different aspects of the community because most of them come from Kansas anyway, so it’s really a nice thing that they’re giving back to the community that they’re from,” K-State head rowing coach Patrick Sweeney said. “They’re not going to come in and disappear after four or five years. They’re really invested in the community and the university and that will go on for decades.”

Haskell agreed.  

“Don’t think that just because you’re a D-I athlete you can’t find other ways to get involved on campus. There’s just so many opportunities,” she said. “Everyone has a busy schedule, but if you’re able to allocate your time in the right way you can get involved, find ways to impact other people’s lives and invest in others so that you can form those relationships that can outlast rowing or outlast your time in college.”