Athlete Profile: Women’s Crew

It is 5:00 a.m. and the alarm clock promptly sounds. It’s time to roll out of bed, pull on a favorite set of spandex and sweats, grab a bottle of water, and head out the door. This is what senior rowers Maureen Lynch, Toria Johnson, Jessie Slenker, Jane Hornickel, Alexandra Kellogg, Sarah Howie, Charlotte Heyman and coxswain Rebecca Sacks-Oppenheim have done every morning of their college careers. They have grown used to watching students return from going out, as they wake for another grueling practice. When questioned how rowing has shaped her Colgate experience, Slenker put it simply: “How hasn’t it?”

The social dynamic that arises among these women is different from any other Colgate sport or activity. Rowing is the pinnacle of team sports, requiring the synchronization of eight athletes’ movements. Johnson, a team captain who entered college with rowing experience, noted that the sport harnesses the “true sense of Colgate as a community: different people working toward a common goal.” These seniors have been working together for four years now, and they agreed it has been “an unbelieveable experience,” one they wouldn’t change fo the world.

The sacrifice, strength and determination needed to succeed in rowing has sculpted these eight athletes like no others. They say the bonds between them will undoubtedly remain for the rest of their lives. As Howie said, “There’s nothing like seeing someone at 5 a.m., pissed off, sweaty and in spandex to realize what they’re really like as a person.”

One would think that such a close group would be effectively inseparable, but such is not the case. In fact, each of the women lives a very different life from the rest. They all live in different places, with different groups of friends, have assorted academic concentrations and are involved with very different extracurricular activities. Perhaps this is what makes them such a special bunch.

With these diverse interests, all of the women support each other heavily: if one of the teammates puts a lot of effort into a campus event, you will be sure to find every other senior rower in attendance.

“Rowing is a consistent and important aspect of our time at Colgate,” Colgate’s only 2005 All-American, Lynch, said. “We get to see each other on all different levels, but still have this relationship as an outlet to the other things we do on campus.”

Academics are obviously a major aspect of their lives here at Colgate and this group of women have accomplished quite the balancing act between athletics and academics. Touting the highest team GPA on campus, they are infamous for their “J3ct” table in Case. Anyone who spent time in the surrogate library last semester was sure to find this energetic bunch pouring over their studies, while simultaneously giving out candy and dancing to the latest music videos on iTunes.

These girls made a name for Colgate in this sport and have left impressive shoes to fill. But most impressive is their contagious laughter, bright smiles, and ability to finish each others’ sentences.Each member of the group pushes and challenges the others, but always remains available as a safety net in times of need. Each one of these athletes will graduate in May and go on with their lives in separate ways, but rowing will forever link them at heart.