w. rowing team
DiPietro, right, with crew members on the steps of Barnard Hall

Like many athletes, Sophia DiPietro ’24 stays in the zone by incorporating music into her daily routine and workouts. Whether it’s a classical composition or hip-hop beats, the environmental studies major and crew member on Columbia’s Women’s Rowing team described her connection with music as intimate. “I find that sometimes when I’m having an off day or am not feeling myself, I can reset my entire mood by listening to music,” said DiPietro. “It gives me the ability to carry myself with confidence — whether it’s for classes or for rowing.” 

DiPietro rows through the Columbia-Barnard Consortium, an arrangement that allows Barnard athletes to compete alongside Columbia undergraduates — distinguishing Barnard as the only women’s college whose students participate in the Ivy League athletic conference and NCAA Division I Athletics

While being on the water is a way for the student-athlete to focus on her pace, cross training is when she and the team listen to music together. “We do a lot of cross training for rowing, [and] music is especially important for erg workouts,” explained DiPietro. “It pumps people up, and can pull us through a hard workout. Everyone has that one song that can pull them out of the deepest hole during a tough erg workout.” Right now, DiPietro’s favorite song is “Shut Up and Drive” by Rihanna. 

DiPietro in her "Barnard Athletics" cap

Music brings the team together, as competitors and in camaraderie. “I don’t think there’s a single athlete out there who doesn’t utilize music in some way,” said DiPietro. When the rowing team has away competitions, their tradition is to sing the Columbia fight song, “Roar, Lion, Roar,” as they leave Manhattan. On the return trip home, they queue up “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra and Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind.” These well-being techniques that DiPietro practices with her team reflect Barnard's embedded culture of well-being, via the campus-wide health initiative Feel Well, Do Well @ Barnard.

@columbiawrowing NEVA SKIP LUNGE DAY 😤🥵😮‍💨🥴 #ivyleague #barnard #columbia #rowing #studentathlete ♬ Work Out (Talkbox) - Adam Tahere

“[The above] TikTok shows Columbia women’s rowing team on a training day,” said DiPietro. “My teammates are the best part of the sport for me, and the energy they bring to every practice is incredible.” 

The genre of music to which DiPietro listens varies between her academic and athletic worlds. While a range of different kinds of music helps her team to perform well in competition, classical music, such as “Notturno” of Alexander Borodin’s String Quartet No. 2, is DiPietro’s go-to while studying — at home or in the library. “One of my good friends from high school is a cellist, and she’ll occasionally send me pieces that she plays,” said DiPietro. “They allow me to focus on the task at hand while also blocking any external distractions.” 

Follow along as DiPietro shares the inspiration behind each playlist, and click the links to listen to the crew member’s musical curation.

DiPietro’s playlists for…

Commuting to practice: “This playlist is for the drive to practice. When I head to practice, I don’t look to get myself too excited, since we still have to warm up there and it’s early in the morning. I pick out music that’s more upbeat but still chilled out and relaxed, like ‘Sweet’ by the hip-hop group Brockhampton.” 

Working out and warming up: “This is where the pace picks up! For workouts, it is all about tempo, a strong bass, and a killer beat. My [tennis] doubles partner over the summer, who went to Smith College, really liked Nicki Minaj. Since then, I’ve [grown to] appreciate Minaj’s music, and I have at least one of her songs in my workout playlists.” 

Game day: “A game-day playlist demands intensity and style. I like to listen to rap and other songs that get me pumped up!”

Studying: “This is a classical music piece that my friend from high school sent me. I listen to it all the time because it’s peaceful and relaxing.”