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Club rowing to host women’s speaker series

By Aniket Tolpadi     4/8/15 11:37am

The Rice University crew team is hosting the “Row Like a Girl” Women’s Speaker Series this Sunday. The event will feature three former female rowers: Jessica Willey, Wendy Lawrence and Torrey Palmer, an Olympian and former Rice rower.

Willey, a current news reporter for ABC, and Lawrence, a former astronaut, are also former collegiate rowers. The focus of the speaker series is to inspire young women and girls to pursue rowing for the physical, emo- tional and communal benefits it provides.

The series was initially intended to be a fundraiser for the team. However, the crew team wants to attract as many people as possible, and has made the event free for Rice students.

According to freshman rower Yun Qui Wong, the purpose of the event is to attract more girls to consider rowing.

“Yes, you have to wake up early, train until you drop and give up a lot of time to make way for it, but rarely ever will you find anything else as rewarding,” Wong, a Martel College freshman, said. “The leadership skills, teamwork, friendship, discipline and determina- tion you get out of it is totally worth it, and we aspire to bring more girls into this sport.”

This event serves as part of a larger mis- sion for the Rice crew team. Though Rice crew was a strong team for much of the 1990s, the reality of being located in a region far from most boathouses and without a sports culture characterized by rowing eventually set in. The combination of high costs associated with rowing, the absence of boathouses within a 60-mile radius of campus and the lack of a head coach for much of the 2000s led to a severe decline in the program.

After going roughly 10 years without a head coach, a coaching staff finally arrived less than two years ago. With a new coaching staff came a sense of direction to the program; the team has taken on the dual responsibility of both raising awareness for the sport around the community and making it more accessible to Rice students and the community.

According to sophomore Annie Nordhaus- er, the speaker series is designed to inspire girls to use sports as a building block for success.

“Our goal for this series is to create an annual event to bring successful female rowers to campus to demonstrate sports as an empowering foundation for lifelong achievement,” Nordhauser, a McMurtry College sophomore, said.

The “Row Like a Girl” Women’s Speaker Series will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 12 at the Rice Memorial Center Grand Hall. 

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