Amazing Women Masters Rower:
Jody Gormley

What rowing moment you are most proud of?
After more than a year of coordinating the effort, gathering with my college alumnae team for our first race in 2013 at the Head of the Charles after most of the team had not rowed in a race in more than 35 years. It was so gratifying that these women who had rowed together years ago, and who are now scattered across the country, supported the idea of making this happen and were willing to spend the time and energy to train and row together again. We have continued to train and race together every year since. Our numbers keep growing and every year our gatherings for training and racing are a delight. 

How has rowing shaped you?
I started rowing in college and through it I learned discipline, focus, goal setting and to push myself much harder than I would have thought I would have been able. These lessons paid dividends throughout the rest of my life. 

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome to row your best?
Time is always an issue. Since I prefer to row with a team it is challenging to find a team schedule that meshes with my work schedule and other commitments. Some training inevitably requires work that I do on my own and motivation in that situation can be a challenge for me. I have a love-hate relationship with racing, but I know if I have the goal of a race I will train much harder.

What are the biggest life lessons you have learned from rowing?
Humility. I found this especially true as a master rower. In college I was a fairly successful rower, but back in the 70s there really wasn’t a lot of stiff competition in women’s rowing and you could do very well if you just trained hard. I’m really not built for rowing and now there are so many good masters women rowers that I realize I am not such hot stuff. There are those days when I just can’t seem to get in the flow and fixing one flaw results in amplification of another. It always comes back to being humble about my flaws, what I still have to learn and what I can improve upon.

What inspires you to keep rowing?
I enjoy the feeling of fatigue after a hard row and the feel of a boat moving across the water but the real inspiration is the (fleeting) joy of a perfect stroke and everyone in the boat moving as one.

What club or team are you currently rowing with?
Locally I row at Pocock Rowing Center and with Montlake rowing club, a group of masters women within PRC. At least once a year I row and race with the “Notre Dames”, a group of rowers from the first years of women’s rowing at the University of Notre Dame, when it was a club sport.

What do you like most about rowing a single or with others?
I prefer rowing with others. I love the challenge of matching. I row starboard and rarely stroke a boat, so matching the rest of the boat is always a little different depending on who is stroking and who is between me and the stroke. It requires focus. I also enjoy the speed of bigger boats, the camaraderie and energy of a team and sharing the experience of rowing with others.

What are you currently working towards as a rower? as a competitor?
As a rower I am always challenged by the need for core strength and overcoming a tendency to lapse back into aspects of a style of rowing that I learned decades ago, one that really is not a good choice as an older and aging person. And always I need work on moving a boat faster and smoother. When I was graduating from podiatric medical school, we were asked for a long term goal. Mine was unrelated to my profession. It was to row in the Masters Nationals when I was 70. It’s looking like I will be able to make that a reality.

What advice do you have for other women rowers?
You can drift away from the sport over your lifetime, but you can always drift back in. There are as many reasons for rowing as there are rowers. Know your reason and find the situation that honors it as much as possible, whether it is sculling alone on a still bay or racing in an eight through the Montlake Cut.

If you’d like to share your story in our “Amazing Women Masters Rowers” series, please email contact@whywerow.com.

Share this via:

Amazing Women Masters Rower:
Barbara Hogan

What rowing moment you are most proud of?
Does anything compare with the Head of the Charles Regatta?! In the 12 years that I have been rowing, I have had the good fortune to compete in that incomparable fall classic for the past eleven years in both sweep and sculling events. My proudest moments — sharing the HOCR podium with Sara Sargent after winning the Women’s Veteran 2x in 2016, 2017, and 2018.

How has rowing shaped you?
I was 61 when I found rowing — a sedentary 61 who had always tended to opt out of situations that involved competition or that might put me in the spotlight. Being overweight for most of my life no doubt contributed to this lack of confidence. I had never been involved in a sport, but on a whim, I signed up for a Learn-to-Row class because I’d seen adults rowing 8+ in Princeton and it looked like fun. I still remember, however, the apprehension I felt at the beginning of the 2006 Learn-to-Row class. I was the oldest and least fit in the group of 40 trainees. From the first session, however, I felt encouraged by the coaches and mentors in the program. That support, and the magic of being out on the water at dawn touched me and I took the next step by joining Carnegie Lake Rowing Association. Little by little, I came under the spell of rowing. It didn’t hurt that in my first race, our 8 won, and I got my first hint of the bonding that can happen with shared effort and why rowing has been called the ultimate team sport.

Feeling I had little time to waste, I soon bought a double and then a single. I became “coachable”, then focused, fit, and finally competitive in my age group. Winning gold for Carnegie Lake in the WG1x at the 2013 Masters National Championship and being recognized as US Rowing Fans’ Choice Masters Athlete of the Year in 2014 further boosted my self-confidence. Shortly after that, I was invited to join Vesper Boat Club as a member of the masters women’s 8+ and Fairmount Rowing Association where I train in the double. In all, I’ve competed in six FISA World Rowing Masters Regattas with Masters International.

Rowing has not only transformed my lifestyle but has also helped me achieve and maintain a healthy weight. More than that, rowing has given me priceless experiences and innumerable bonds forged on and off the water with new friends here and abroad. I developed my passion for rowing later in life and now at 73, I take every opportunity to encourage and mentor other women, especially those of “a certain age” to do the same.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome to row your best?
I have advanced osteoarthritis in both knees that has worn away the joint cartilage. While this makes getting into and out of the boat challenging, the rowing stroke helps strengthen the knee muscles and keeps the joints from becoming unstable –another reason to get out there as often as possible.

What are the biggest life lessons you’ve learned from rowing?
Life is now. In my relatively short time as a rower, I have lost more than one teammate to an early or sudden death. Others have become incapacitated by disease or age. Today is the day. Enjoy every stroke. To succeed you must be fearless. (That goes double for the single!)

What inspires you to keep rowing?
Rowing is an interest I share with my husband. Besides the physical advantages of continuing to row as we age, there are other rewarding aspects of the sport. It has become a central part of our social life. Our teammates, partners, and competitors continue to motivate us to set goals and train hard. Among the most inspiring relationships are the friendships formed with several elite senior rowers, many of whom stay with us whenever they are in Princeton. Their dedication and mental toughness are really motivational.

What inspires you to keep rowing?
What club or team are you currently rowing with?
• Carnegie Lake Rowing Association in Princeton
• Vesper Boat Club in Philadelphia
• Fairmount Rowing Association in Philadelphia

What do you like most about rowing a single or with others?
As a sculler who most often “coxes from the bow” in doubles and quads, what I like best about the single is the ability to focus without talking. No other boat class is more challenging or more rewarding. The 1x is the ultimate test of mental toughness. By comparison, in the team sweep boats I am inspired to give my fullest effort for the common goal. Both are thrilling.

What are you currently working towards as a rower? as a competitor?
Inspired by older teammates who are still amazing rowers, I am working on maintaining my strength and aerobic fitness to be able to continue to row for years to come.

As a competitor, my goals are:
• be an asset in every team boat
• show up and do my best in single sprints
• row another thrilling 2x race at HOCR
• compete at the 2020 World Rowing Indoor Championship in Paris next February
• row in a “parent/child” event with my 14-year-old granddaughter who will be joining us in June at Craftsbury Sculling Center for her first rowing experience.

What advice do you have for other women rowers?
• Find a mentor — someone who is doing what you aspire to do.
• Maximize your boating options — learn to sweep both sides, scull, cox.
• When learning to scull, use a mirror early on, you won’t regret it.

If you’d like to share your story in our “Amazing Women Masters Rowers” series, please email contact@whywerow.com.

Share this via:

Amazing Women Masters Rower:
Alexis Franklin

What rowing moment you are most proud of?
I raced in a 2.5 mile regatta with my younger son Samuel Franklin when he was in high school in the mother/son event. Racing with your child is the most gratifying. And we won the race! 

How has rowing shaped you?
It has made me a better leader; I manage and captain a women’s 60 plus eight: it has provided me with the opportunity to engage with a local, national, and international group of masters athletes on a competitive, organizational and operational involvement in the sport; provided me with the opportunity to contribute to the welfare of young women and athletes on the road to the Olympics. As a member of its Board of Directors, contribute to the legacy and historical equity of the Vesper Boat Club; raise the profile of women’s masters on a national and global scale. 

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome to row your best?
I have had two major health challenges in my life. Overcoming them and focusing on better health and getting back in the boat. Even on days when I don’t row well or I’m tired. My daily rowing routine helped me mentally and physically overcome the challenges during these serious health crisis.

What are the biggest life lessons you’ve learned from rowing?
Humility, leadership, determination, discipline, the value of silence. Sweat!

What inspires you to keep rowing?
It is great to have a sport when you are older. Rowing allows you to use every muscle. The idyllic setting of the Schuykill River is certainly up-lifting. Solitude and inner strength.

What club or team are you currently rowing with?
Vesper Boat Club

What do you like most about rowing a single or with others?
How wonderful it is to sit in the middle of a body of water and repeat the same task multiple times. Truly Zen-like. I like practicing in my single as it gives me a chance to work on technique and strength on my own. A team boat is the single most challenging exercise in life. I also like the camaraderie of rowing in a team boat. In an eight when the boat is set and all are swinging together. Feels great!

What are you currently working towards as a rower? as a competitor?
I always set a goal of rowing 1000 miles per year. I like training for an upcoming regatta and working out a few times a week. I also enjoy the companionship of my teammates and fellow competitors.

What advice do you have for other women rowers?
Get on board. Jump in. Make the time to commit to practice and set your own goals. It is the best thing you can do for yourself.

If you’d like to share your story in our “Amazing Women Masters Rowers” series, please email contact@whywerow.com.

Share this via:

Amazing Women Masters Rower:
Tracy Wright-Mauer

What rowing moment you are most proud of?
It is hard for me to pick out one moment. Just like it is hard to pick one moment in a race, being a rower is an accumulation of experiences and connections that build over time. Highlights include that first medal at Masters Nationals, finishing in the top 50% for the first time at the Charles, winning the Head of the Fish in the mixed eight (twice!), and building the boathouse on the Hudson River is a pretty big highlight as well. But, there are so many smaller moments – the first row with my teammates after our boat crash; taking our brand new boat out for its inaugural row at dusk in complete silence, just the sound of our oars; rowing with an eagle overhead; racing in the parent child double with my daughter at the Charles; rowing with my extended family in the “Mauer Eight” and just in general watching my kids grow up to become rowers and part of the community. Though my personal and family involvement in Hudson River Rowing Association brings me much pride and joy, my involvement as the President of Poughkeepsie Crew brings the most meaning to my life – providing a place of belonging and the lessons of trust and teamwork through rowing to a bunch of kids who are often dismissed, maligned and neglected in many aspects of society brings me the greatest sense of accomplishment. 

How has rowing shaped you?
I have been a rower for over twenty years and one of the things I love about crew is the shedding of preconceived notions about others and myself when I am in a boat with eight other people. Despite rowing’s elite trappings and history, I have always experienced it as a sport of equality – whether you are rich or poor, black or white, male or female – when you are in a boat together those labels fall away and everyone works singularly together. I like to think that has influenced my life outside of rowing as well.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome to row your best?
Age – the physical effects, but also how people see women, especially older women. As I age and lose strength it is hard to compete with women 20 years younger who are stronger and faster than I am. Getting coaches, especially young coaches, to look at our value in different age groups can be difficult. As an older athlete it is hard to get the same resources (coaching, equipment, practice time) to ensure our success in our age group as the younger athletes seem to get. There is still a lot of misogyny and mansplaining that I have to deal with in the rowing community – I have rowed/sculled competitively for close to 25 years, built the largest rowing club on the Hudson and a seven-bay boathouse that serves 600 athletes a year, yet I still get ignored, dismissed and labeled “bossy” and controlling. When men do what I do they are called confident, competent leaders – persevering in this environment has been a challenge. 

What are the biggest life lessons you’ve learned from rowing?
There are three pathways to happiness (in life or rowing). 1. If you have a goal then the only way you will achieve that goal is through hard work and tenacity – for most of us no one is going hand us a spot in a boat or a medal or a scholarship, we have to earn it. 2. If you don’t want to put the work in to ___ (fill in the blank), but you still want to participate in the activity, you must find peace and enjoyment in the activity itself. 3. If you can’t find peace and enjoyment without it being tied to a goal that you are not willing to work towards, then you should find something else that either inspires you to do the work or something else that brings you peace and enjoyment! It works in rowing, any other sport and most life activities! 

What inspires you to keep rowing?
Honestly, people and teammates come and go, it’s the beauty of the motion and bodies of water we get to practice on that brings me back year after year.

What club or team are you currently rowing with?
Hudson River Rowing Association

What do you like most about rowing a single or with others?
The best thing about the single is not having to rely on others, there is a freedom to it that is lovely. The best thing about an eight, especially a mixed eight, when we are all dialed in and working as one, is the speed! 

What are you currently working towards as a rower? as a competitor?
I think I have to work on becoming a better sculler and learning to compete solo – I have never competed in a single because I have always derived a lot of energy and focus from my teammates to allow me to push through the pain of racing. When it is just me my expectations are lower, and I need to push through that self imposed limitation. 

What advice do you have for other women rowers?
Be generous and supportive of one another – we become better teammates, athletes and rowers when that happens.

If you’d like to share your story in our “Amazing Women Masters Rowers” series, please email contact@whywerow.com.

Share this via: