In Season Debut, Rowing Program Shows Strength

From Fledging Project to Robust Team in Three Years

The+rowing+team+practices+before+dawn+on+Lake+Wononscopomuc.

Leighton Smith '24

The rowing team practices before dawn on Lake Wononscopomuc.

The rowing team practices before dawn on Lake Wononscopomuc. (Leighton Smith ’24)

After three seasons without competition, the rowing team anticipates its first season filled with races. The team is comprised of 75 rowers and coxswains. The schedule with multiple full regattas is a key milestone in the development of the fairly new rowing program.

Ella Mohanram ’23, a coxswain, said, “I think it’s really exciting with this large of a team to be finally racing. We have a lot of really great boats who have been working really well together as a team and boat.”

Although there is a larger emphasis on the competition this season, the team is constantly committed to maintaining its core values of working hard, supporting and respecting each other, as well as having fun.

Head coach Victoria McGee leads the team with her newfound philosophy of empowering young student athletes and giving them the confidence to succeed. The philosophy stems from Coach McGee’s experience coaching at the Division 1 level at Duke University where she worked directly with the 3rd Varsity 8 boat.

“I was totally in love with rowing — the intensity, the camaraderie, the feeling when you hear the bubbles flow under the boat,” she said. “And I have always been inspired by coaches, especially Pat Summit. Some of the most important lessons in my life are from my coaches.”

Coach McGee has also set some personal goals for the season that include familiarizing the team with a racing schedule, fostering an environment where everybody feels valued, and qualifying boats for championship regattas. For younger and less experienced students, the rowing team can appear daunting. However Coach McGee actively encourages them to feel like a part of the team.

Helena Inzerillo ’25, a new coxswain said, “It is a very close knit team, and I genuinely feel like everyone has my back which only makes me want to work harder.”

Moreover, the large size of the team has demanded close coordination between the coaches and the team’s five co-captains. One of the strengths of the team is its ability to blend experienced rowers with new rowers who are enthusiastic about the sport. Co-captain Nani Veluchamy ’22 said, “It feels amazing to be a mentor on this team. I remember what it was like to be a novice rower and the impact the more experienced rowers had on me and I just want to pass on that connection. It’s the start of our very first racing season and I want everyone to really enjoy the sport.”

Since the team started right before the pandemic hit, there have been many ups and downs in terms of the team’s success. Coach McGee recalls how hard it was to see what direction the program was headed in and if it would even be able to continue on after Covid. Now that school is back to a somewhat normal environment, Coach McGee has a direct vision on where she wants to take the rowing team.

She said, “I have a clear idea of the potential based on what we have done so far and the enthusiasm around the sport. It’s exciting to think about the growth I have gotten here as a coach, and every year I find ways to be better and make slight changes to test new ideas.”

As the season continues to progress, the team has high hopes for the direction of the program and its strong future.

A version of this story appears in print on April 28, 2022, Page 1 of The Hotchkiss Record with the headline: In Season Debut, Rowing Program Displays Strength.