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 firstname.lastname@example.org.