Westminster rowers participate in Head of the Charles Regatta


The Varsity Girls Crew Team is eagerly looking forward to another successful season. Starting on Jan. 20, the season will last until around May 9 when the much-anticipated Regionals commence. After a strong showing last year, the Crew Cats aim to match those accomplishments in the upcoming year.

“We had a great year, we had quite a few returning members and an influx of new rowers,” said Varsity Crew Coach Kasia Kaufman. “Our lightweight 4 boat, manned by Olivia Haas, Isabelle Bellott-McGrath, Hannah Namnoum, Deepti Rao, and Nidhi Rao, medalled at numerous regattas including the John Hunter Regatta and Clemson Sprints. Our novice 4, manned by Mattie Drucker, Maya Jones, Grace Ann Perry, Leafia Sheraden Cox, and Miranda Tomaras, had a stellar season and they went to Southeast Regionals in Sarasota and got bronze, which is a huge accomplishment. We also ended up sending a JV boat to Scholastic Nationals in Princeton.”

Composed of 28 girls and equipped with two 4-rower boats and two 8-rower boats, the team is excited to get another 4 boat this year. This will help maximize the Crew Cats’ chances of having an even more successful season than last year’s.

“This will add one more four to our program so that we have more opportunities for racing in multiple events at regattas,” said Kaufman. “I absolutely enjoy coaching. I’m excited, especially after last year’s results, there is a lot of interest in the team.”

The increased interest in rowing has lead many to believe the sport is on the rise at Westminster.

“I’d say rowing is becoming a more influential sport at Westminster because the number of students participating competitively in the sport is increasing,” said senior McKenzie Parks. “The increase in participation is good to see because currently rowing isn’t as big in the Southeast, excluding Florida, as it is in other regions of the country, so hopefully this trend will continue and rowing will become more popular and more competitive in this region.”

In order to prepare for the season ahead, many of the rowers have been training and competing outside of Westminster’s program to get prepared for the physically demanding requirements of competitive rowing.

“This will be my second season with the Westminster team,” said senior Rao. “Last year, I rowed in the Varsity Lightweight 4+ for most of the season and in the JV boat for Scholastic Nationals (SRAA). I trained for club regionals and nationals with a different club this past summer and attended the Charles River Rowing Camp at Harvard, and a few other kids on the team did other college camps.”

However, rowing is not limited to the Varsity Crew Team at Westminster. Many students, male and female alike, participate in rowing at independent clubs around the Atlanta area and train and compete year-round.

“I was on the Westminster rowing team in the spring of my freshmen year, and I’ve been at Atlanta Junior Rowing Association (AJRA) since fall of my sophomore year,” said Parks. “Depending on your level of commitment, crew is pretty much year-round. The main seasons are fall and spring. The fall season roughly starts about the time the school year starts and ends in early to mid-November, while the spring season starts roughly mid-January and ends anywhere from mid-May to mid-June depending on qualification to Nationals.”

Parks is a coxswain at AJRA, and her role in the boat is to focus on safety and steering and managing practices and drills. Last month she participated in the prestigious Head of the Charles Regatta (HOCR), which is the world’s largest two-day rowing event and attracts thousands of athletes and roughly 300,000 spectators every year.

“I’d say our biggest race this fall was Head of the Charles on October 18-19,” said Parks. “The Head of the Charles is a 5k race on the Charles River in Boston, and it was an awesome experience. The Charles is so busy that there are spectators all along the race course standing on the shore and up on the bridges, which makes racing very exciting. Racing at HOCR was one of my favorite experiences with crew so far, and I hope to have the opportunity to race at the Charles again in the future.”

Along with several other Westminster rowers, Parks aims to continue competitive rowing at a college level. With such a strong presence of talented rowers at Westminster, many advocate for the creation of a boys crew team.

“I think a male rowing team would be great at Westminster,” said Parks.

Rao concurs with Parks’ support for a male crew team.

“I definitely think there should be a male rowing team because rowing is such a great sport in so many ways,” said Rao. “It’s just a great combination of physical and mental training, and it really teaches you how to manage your time because it is such a big commitment.”

Perhaps it is time to explore whether a male crew team could be made a reality at Westminster.