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

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