STORRS, Conn. – Prior to the 2015 American Athletic Conference Championship, senior rower Kate Boudreau - a sophomore at the time – felt a great deal of anxiety leading up to her participation as a member of the Third Varsity 8+.
Admittedly the most inexperienced rower in the boat, Boudreau was nervous the entire week leading up to the event in Mercer County, N.J. It wasn’t until seeing a short message on a piece of tape that the nerves disappeared.
“Coach Ally Zoppa had taped in front of each of our shoes in the boat with personalized messages,” said Boudreau. “Most were about technique – ‘Connect’ or ‘Blade In.’ Mine said ‘Relax’, which made me laugh and I smiled for the first time that day.”
The message worked, as Boudreau helped the boat to a silver medal finish in a time of 7:14.886 – just 10 seconds behind first-place Temple.
Since that race, Boudreau has picked up racing experience in every possible way, leading the Huskies in 2016-17 as one of just five seniors on the team.
Only two races remain for Boudreau in her UConn career – the Women’s Eastern Sprints on Sunday in Worcester, Mass. and the American Athletic Conference Championship on May 13 in Sarasota, Fla.
With that in mind, the Madison, Conn. native looks to finish the season on a strong note, as the Huskies are coming off a great performance in a dual race with Holy Cross on April 15. UConn boats recorded four first-place finishes on the day.
“I’m really excited to see how we do at the AAC Championship,” said Boudreau. “The team has demonstrated so much positivity and passion all year, and I think it has definitely contributed to us building boat speed going into the championship.”
Boudreau, who celebrated her birthday on Monday, is now less than two weeks away from graduation and looks back on her time at UConn with memories made and lessons learned.
“When I reflect on my time here, I feel so much gratitude,” said Boudreau. “The experience has shaped me into a better athlete, but also a better student and human being.”
She added, “I can’t imagine that I will choose to do anything else in my life that will be as consistently challenging, mentally and physically, as rowing is. That’s pretty empowering, because the sport really shows what you are capable of.”
A double major in physiology and neurobiology and psychology, as well as a Spanish minor, Boudreau plans to take a gap year after graduation while she applies to medical schools.
She will return to California, where her family currently lives, to do research and gain clinical experience during the year. Before then, however, work remains for the UConn rowing team.