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UVA alum and Olympic gold medalist publishes book to inspire

Updated: Dec. 22, 2020 at 10:37 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - An Olympian who calls Charlottesville home is hoping to inspire people to not let anything, including the coronavirus pandemic, hold them back.

Lindsay Dare Shoop’s book, “Better Great Than Never,” has a fitting title since she didn’t even consider rowing until an interaction during her time at the University of Virginia.

“I bumped into the still-head rowing coach [Kevin Sauer] of the team randomly at a swim meet one day in the fall of my junior year and he said, ‘hey, you want to try rowing?’” Dare Shoop said.

The answer she gave, as you may know by now, was yes.

But it wasn’t smooth sailing - or rowing - from then on.

“I peeked through the window and I see the whole team in there,” she said. “And they all knew each other, they were all tan from having gone on a winter training trip in Florida, they all looked athletic, and I thought, ‘oh my gosh.’ I was incredibly intimidated and high-tailed it for the parking lot. I tried to run away on my first day.”

Her future teammates brought her back. It took some time for Dare Shoop to become a better rower, but luckily for her, she had a team around her striving to shed the underdog label.

“For as much as I was chasing them, they were chasing the person that was ahead of them,” she said. “So it was everybody either pushing or pulling everyone to be a little better every day. And that really came from the top.”

The rest is history: NCAA All-American, a world championship, and finally an Olympic gold medal. She proudly wore her ring during an interview with NBC29.

That brings us back to her book and why she wrote it.

“I had a young woman who said to me one day during practice, ‘you can do that because you’re you,’” Dare Shoop said. “And I thought, she knows all of these stories and yet it still didn’t sink in that we have so much in common.”

That includes the love of the sport, which she may have never even tried if not for Sauer, to whom she dedicated the book, as well as her granny.

“All he did was say hi to me, and it turned out to be this life-changing event. The book definitely is an appreciation that we make in life along the way, and you never know what one small hello or one small gesture can do for someone else. Take these opportunities that we have to connect with people in new and weird and different ways, and never discount the significance of what seems like small moments.”

“Better Great Than Never” is available now at most major book retailers.

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