D.J. Civiletti

Written by
Photos by
March 29, 2015

D.J. Civiletti wakes up every Saturday at 4:45 a.m., picks up fellow rowers at 5 a.m. and hits the Allegheny River by 5:10 a.m.

Rowing, a nearly year-round sport, demands long hours, short 2k times and both outdoor and indoor practices, but Civiletti doesn’t seem to mind. Civiletti, a junior economics major, is a rower and equipment manager on Pitt’s crew team. In addition to balancing schoolwork, Civiletti spends Saturdays at the boathouse on Washington’s Landing where his coach, Daniel Grancea, pitches orders. Although he occassionally feels like he’s struggling to stay above water, Civiletti’s passion for the sport and its discipline have kept him hooked.

The Pitt News: What first got you interested in rowing?

D.J. Civiletti: I rowed in high school [at Brighton High School in Rochester, N.Y.] all four years. I started because all my friends did it, but now I’m the only one left. I played volleyball and started rowing in the offseason to keep in shape, but, seven years later, here I am. I don’t know what kept me doing it. I just know not doing it is not an option. The appeal is that you can never beat it — you are constantly pushing yourself.

TPN: What are some common misconceptions about rowing?

DC: People are always scared of the morning schedule — it sounds awful, but it’s a mindset. And, when your best friends are on the same schedule, it’s not so bad. Friday nights are not as exciting, because practice is on Saturday morning. The schedule scares people, but if it wasn’t worth it, I wouldn’t do it. You have to find value in yourself. It’s not fun like other sports. You have to make your own worth to keep doing it.

TPN: Did rowing change you as a person?

DC: Definitely, definitely. It trained my discipline, getting up at 5:30 a.m. Compared to doing homework or chores, what used to seem like a job is nothing now. It’s discipline, what you have to do. I could quit rowing whenever I want, [but] you find a reason to do it and find a reason to do other things. It made me appreciate hard work — it served me very well. I like who I’ve become. People want what is easy, but there is nothing wrong with hard work.