SDSU rower Megan Stone enjoys the busy life

by Patrick Carr, Sports Editor

Every morning before sunrise, Megan Stone wakes up to get ready for 6 a.m. rowing practice at Mission Bay. Early mornings aren’t uncommon to Stone, a U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant who’s currently a sophomore on the San Diego State rowing team.

Stone is a very busy woman. She always has been and always will be. That’s how she likes it. Anything else would be boring.

Two-hour rowing practices six days a week? Check. Naval Reserves Officers Training Corps obligations? Check. Schoolwork for her kinesiology major? Done. Organizing the upcoming Marine Corps Ball at the Manchester Grand Hyatt? Challenging.

“I like to be active,” Stone said. “I have the energy for this kind of lifestyle. It’s kind of not for everybody, but it’s definitely been for me.”

Where other rowers have come straight from high school, Stone has come to SDSU in the Marine Enlisted Commissioned Education Program, which allows her to be a full-time student-athlete and still be active duty.

Her jam-packed life started in the Marine Corps, where she was an Aircraft Communications, Navigation and Electrical Systems Technician.

She repaired circuits and wires on CH-53 Echo helicopters during her four tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2005-10.

It was a demanding job, she says. The schedule revolved around what the flight crew needed. The nonstop schedule sometimes resulted in 16-hour shifts.

If all the work was done in eight hours, it was “great.” If it wasn’t, they worked until it was done, whether it was eight or 18 hours.

Stone got orders to go on recruiting duty after her tours were done. During that time, she was in Miramar and Oceanside among other places. It was also during this time she met SDSU rowing head coach Bill Zack when the Marines hosted student-athletes to partake in fitness tests.

She talked to Zack, a retired U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander, and some of the girls on the team, who suggested she try out despite not having prior experience.

“Rowing’s not extremely hard to try to do, but to be very proficient, it’s very hard,” Stone said.

Rowing, like every sport Stone has ever played, has been an interesting experience. In high school she played football for three years despite being smaller than everyone on the team.

She played linebacker and special teams after her gym teacher convinced her to try out for kicker. Eventually, she didn’t want to be “just a kicker.”

“You’d think that I got pancaked and flattened out by how hard I got hit by some of the really big players on the other team, but it was like, ‘Hey I just got up and I didn’t die, that was a victory in itself,’” Stone said with a laugh.

Many of her rowing teammates have been perfecting their techniques for years.

Learning from them is part of Stone’s humbling experience, which included competing at the Row for the Cure regatta on Mission Bay this past Sunday. Stone was on the ‘C’ boat that finished in sixth place in the open eight race.

But she’s long since embraced being humble, no matter the sport.

Stone calls herself a “sponge,” hoping to learn as much as she can from anything and anyone. She wants to be a good leader when she transitions back into the Marines, and officer candidate school, after graduation.

“Ultimately when I graduate I’m transitioning back into a leadership role and good leaders need to learn how to follow and build themselves up,” she said.

For now, organizing the upcoming Marine Corps Ball is taking up even more of Stone’s time. Not that she has any free time in the day, anyway.

But she’s learned how to cram numerous things into a day long before the planning process started in May.

“It’s not that it’s so difficult to do, it’s just, you have to stay on top of things or else they’re going to fall apart,” Stone said.