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Rowing Newcomers Getting Experience

Nov. 10, 2016

Complete 2017 Schedule | UConn Rowing Roster

STORRS, Conn. –
Throughout the fall season, the UConn rowing team competed hard and earned accolades at several famous regattas – including the Head of the Charles and Head of the Schuylkill – while picking up some new members.

The Huskies added over 20 walk-on student-athletes to the roster, all with varying backgrounds in rowing – and even some with no experience.

Three athletes in particular – Ellen McNiff, Kailey Crothers and Taylor Evangelista – got a taste of the UConn rowing culture this fall. Now the trio, along with the rest of the walk-ons, look to train hard for the spring season.

Most recently, the Huskies competed on the Schuylkill River and took home a second-place finish in the Women’s College Frosh/Novice Eights. Evangelista was one of three walk-ons participating in that silver medal boat.

“In the weeks leading up to the race, I was working really hard in practice to prove that I should be in the boat going to Philadelphia,” said Evangelista. “We ended up finishing second out of 45+ boats and I couldn’t have been more proud of myself and the girls I raced with.”



Many of the walk-ons have experience in other sports, but not in rowing. It is their competitive drive in those sports that has allowed them to quickly grasp onto the rowing team’s work ethic.

“Rowing is new to me this year. In high school, I played volleyball and track. What interests me about rowing is how different it is from any sport I have ever played,” said McNiff.

According to Crothers, it is the rowing team’s energy and motivational behavior that first caught her eye.

“Over the last few weeks, it’s become apparent to me just how passionate these girls truly are about this sport. It inspires me to work as hard as I can every single day,” said Crothers.

The first race they participated in as members of the team turned out to be rewarding not just for the competitive experience, but for the sense of camaraderie with the other UConn rowers.

“Going to the race, I barely knew anyone who was not a walk-on, but by the time I got home, I had 60-plus friends,” said Evangelista. “Despite my little rowing experience, the other girls were more than willing to help. They gave tips on form, the locker room and even letting us know when the best time to take an ice bath was.”

Crothers admits to feeling intimidated by the sight of “hundreds and hundreds of boats” at the Schuylkill, but the racing adrenaline overcame the nerves.

“It was a very exciting experience. After two months of learning technique and boat balance, we finally got to compete,” said McNiff. “It was great seeing what a real race is like and the level of intensity on the water.”

The three rowers – all from Massachusetts – chose to try-out and make a commitment to the UConn rowing team. To this point, the decision is paying off major dividends.

“From the experience of being a student-athlete, I hope to gain life skills such as teamwork, time management and dedication,” said McNiff. “These skills will be very useful for life after college.”

Evangelista added, “I have already made many great new friends and participated in events like SAAC-O-Lantern on Halloween. Athletes are a big part of UConn and I can’t wait to continue representing UConn as a rower.”

Rowing enters the offseason and will begin spring competition in March. For the complete 2017 spring schedule, click HERE.