Sitting Down with Women's Rowing Captain's Kaitlin Roe and Laura Donaldson
March 19, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Women's rowing captain's Kaitlin Roe (Pittsburgh, Pa./Plum Senior) and Laura Donaldson (Berkeley, Calif./Berkeley) sat down to discuss the upcoming spring season, the progress they have seen from their teammates since the end of the fall and taking on leadership roles in a program full of underclassmen.
Roe, a senior and Donaldson, a junior, have both rowed at Georgetown since their freshmen year and gained experience on the water prior to their time on the Hilltop at their respective high schools.
Senior Open Weight Captain Kaitlin Roe On how the women's rowing team has progressed since the fall... I think this year it's interesting because of how many freshmen are on the team. I think freshmen make up 70-percent of the team. So the winter workouts have been challenging, but its fun to see the new energy coming to the team and how their enthusiasm is pushing everyone else. So it's been a hard winter, but I think its really preparing us for the spring season.
On the competitiveness of practice with the amount of young rowers on the squad... I think just the level of competition is infinitely higher this year than it has been in at least the last three years since I've been here. People are pushing each other, but also people are having a lot more fun because there is a new dyamic here. It's fresh, it's fun and people are ready to work hard and see the results that they've put on the erg.
On the feeling of seeing the underclassmen develop... It's amazing. I feel like I can leave Georgetown with the legacy that we have a strong group of girls who are ready to lead this team for the next three years. It's nice to be able to look back and see that the work that I've put into the race course will carry over for the next ten years.
On the impact of first-time rowers on the squad...
There are two girls who are rowing with the first varsity eight who never rowed before coming to Georgetown and they have a certain level of curiosity and they are kind of tentative, but they're using their athleticism to start carrying forward. They don't have to worry about what they did in high school and compare themselves to anyone else, they are just working as hard as they can. They take a certain level of pressure off everyone else because they are just diving into something with no expectations other than they just want to work hard.
On the leadership role she has taken on... I think it's been a challenging year for a lot of people. A lot of people have been injured or sick and obviously with Coach Putyrae it's only his second year, so you don't have years of experience or upperclassmen to talk to about what to expect, but I think it's been unique because we have so many underclassmen that want to work hard. So for me, my job as a captain has been fairly easy because I just have to make sure they stay enthusiastic, which they have been and provide them a team culture that's fun.
On the team's progress since the fall season ... As soon as we finished our last race in the fall we talked about our goals and where we needed to be on May 15 the last day of Eastern Sprints. Something changed between the last day in the water and the first day in the erg room, because people became focused. It's really interesting because it's my first time at Georgetown that people wanted to work hard. It's exciting for me because we have our goals and we're going to stick to them and I think we're going to meet them and surpass them.
On the function of leadership from the upperclassmen and the coaches ... With so many young people on the team it could be very easy to let their immaturity at times to take over. They don't know necessarily what it means to push themselves harder than they ever have in the past, so we just have to make sure they can do that and they're supported by the upperclassmen. For me, I just want to graduate with a legacy of this team being bigger than any one individual.
On the Jesuit Invitational... Georgetown women's rowing has never won the varsity eight event at that race and that's absolutely our top goal. We want to put Georgetown crew back on the map. At the end of the event they total up all the points from all the events, so over the last few years Georgetown has won, but we want to make sure we're contributing just as much as the men's team.
On inspiration for the direction of the program... For our team, we look at the women's rowing team from Georgetown in the early 90's when they went to NCAA's. We look to those women and we're starting to build a relationship with them. They've come and talked to us and we've been emailing with them and communicating with them about what they had at Georgetown and what we want to see the program become in the next five years.
On any inspirational words from some of the previous ... They just stress how special their time with crew was to them and how it wasn't just something they decided to do, but something they dedicated their four years at Georgetown to making they best they could. People are really taking hold of that and making sure that it's not just an activity you do for three hours a day, it's something where you want to see tangible results. If that means you go out for the national team or row in the Olympics.
On her memorable moments... My freshmen year my boat (Novice 4A) won at BIG EAST Championships. The entire year that was our goal, because we knew we had a fast boat. We were behind Notre Dame by almost a boat length in the last 250 meters of the race so I had the fastest finish I've ever had in my entire life to be able to finish in front of Notre Dame.
Lightweight Captain Laura Donaldson
On getting back on the water after winter workouts... It's real nice. It's a long winter season, luckily the river didn't freeze. We got a lot of really good fitness work in, so now that we're in the water we have a really good base to build from. We had such a productive winter season that now we can really concentrate on our technique and don't have to worry as much about losing fitness.
On what she's seen from the team after two weeks back in the water... Our first week back in the water was during spring break. It's always a little rough when you first get back on the water because it's been so long, but I think we're in a really good spot. We have a lot of work cut out for ourselves, but for right now I think we've made some really good strides in the last two weeks and hopefully we'll see that in the race this weekend.
On the expectations for the Jesuit Invitational... We're racing in the openweight event with our openweights, so their will be two Georgetown boats in that event. It's not really an important race for us in terms of competition, but it's really good for experience. We have a really young group of girls in our boat right now, so just the racing experience will be good for us.
On the pressure being a leader ... I don't really think about it consciously. I just try to go into practice every day and bring the right amount of focus and lead by example. I think really just making sure when we get to practice it's time to do work and not to goof off too much.
On the improvement of the underclassmen ... I love watching the freshman race. This weekend will be there first race ever and I can remember my first race my freshman year of high school and how crazy an experience it is. Also, I think it's really interesting to see in college because the rate of improvement is so much faster. In high school I feel like I was a novice for three years, but the coaches here are really good.
On her advice to the underclassmen on the team... I try to tell them that every day right now is going to matter on how you do at the end of the season, it's really important to stay focused. But at the same time have fun, learn how to race and love the sport.
On the change she has seen in the program through her career... When I first got here the lightweight and openweight teams were completely separate. Since Coach Putyrae came that's really changed, we spend a lot of time together in the fall and we do BIG EAST together. I think it's been a positive change as far as team unity and it's really good to have the support of double the number of people.