UPDATE 09/29/18: A previous version of this article misidentified Olivia Bledsoe as Dell Anderson, the article has been updated to correctly identify Bledsoe. As well, this article has been updated to identify team members as rowers not players. A response from Director of Rowing Hanna Luft has also been added.
After two and a half weeks, women's rowing tryouts concluded on Tuesday, and four out of 12 girls received a slot on the roster. These four girls were Olivia Bledsoe, Taylor Anderson, Sanai Brooks and Grace Conallen. Brooks and Conallen described the tryout process as endurance-based and were surprised at the selective outcome.
“This was a real shock to us because previous rowers said that they would take more girls,” Brooks said. Both walk-ons have no previous rowing experience and were surprised and grateful that they made the team.
Conallen, a freshman marketing major, said the rowing coaches were understanding that most girls trying out had no previous rowing experience, instead emphasizing fundamentals and development during the tryouts, which began on September 12. When describing how strict the coaches were during tryouts, both girls said that the vigor of the workouts were structured to get people to drop out.
"It was definitely not designed to have people drop out and if they do think that, they are not going to last in our program as it was a pretty easy try out relative to our normal training," Director of Rowing Hanna Luft said.
Moving forward, both freshman were excited to begin a new sport at a Division 1 level. For Sanai, deciding to join the rowing team came from her curiosity. “I kind of wanted to do rowing because I thought it was interesting and I never knew of a school that had a rowing team,” she said.
As both rookies look ahead at their upcoming season, they shared their hopes for success as a rower. “My hopes are to become a better rower because it’s my first year rowing. I also want to get to know the team and know how to balance my job, my academics and rowing,” said Brooks, a freshman psychology major. On a different note, Conallen described her athletic aspirations. “I just hope to get to the point where I feel comfortable doing the training that the girls on the team do,” she said.
Along with their hopes and aspirations for the season, both rowers said that they were most excited about traveling with the team. Brooks and Conallen agreed that Washington is the place they were happiest about going to.
Last season, women’s rowing finished second at the WCC Championship behind Gonzaga. Rowing’s first race will be on Oct. 19 against UCLA at Marina Del Rey.
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