WESTPORT — After winning on both domestic and international levels, Saugatuck Rowing Club members Kelsey McGinley, Brooke Schwab, and Eden Schumer were up for any challenge.
College decision-making included.
“I was fortunate enough to have my family and my team,” McGinley said. “(My family) let me be very independent during the process, and let me choose the school that is right for me. My teammates were extremely helpful during the process because I could ask older girls about their experience during the recruiting process and tip they had for me.”
McGinley, who will continue her career as a part of the Stanford University women’s crew team after graduating, will join her SRC teammates at the Division-I level, along with Schwab, who is signed to row at Boston College, and Schumer, who will attend Duke University and row on the Blue Devils’ squad.
As teammates, each girl was able to count on one another for success and while that was the same during the college choosing decision, it was not without its fair share of hard times, Schumer said.
“It’s a long, but exciting process,” she said. “One of the first difficult moments is having a really honest conversation with yourself about if it is something you love enough to commit another four years to. Since being a coxswain has become so integral to my identity and being on a team has been such a support system for me these last four years, I couldn’t imagine no pursuing it in college.”
That support system has been a foundation for many of these girls through years of traveling and competing together. While that camaraderie has been in place for the tough times, it is there even stronger for the celebratory moments.
Being able to share in the happiness of when the final decision where made helped to create an even more memorable moment for the girls, Schwab said.
“It was very exciting,” she said. “Everyone on the team had nothing but positive reactions and saying ‘you deserve it,’ and stuff so it was a pretty great moment.”
The success of the trio has been intertwined with that of the program, Saugatuck Rowing Club has continued to be a perennial power in the world for youth rowing — including sending a number of members to compete internationally on the USA Junior World Rowing team.
For McGinley, who was a member of the Junior World Rowing team this past year, there were several difficult decisions that rested on her shoulders before choosing to attend Stanford. But she said it didn’t take long to realize she was doing the right thing.
“In addition to finding the right school academically and campus wise,” McGinley said. “I also had to take in the coaching style and atmosphere of the team. I was looking at many schools, but once I visited campus and met with the team I knew it was the right decision.”
“I thought that the team at Stanford was extremelt committed to athletic success,” she said. “But also valued academics at a high level. When I stepped on campus, I really liked the environment and I could see myself there.”
Each girl had to give serious thought to the future that they could have at the next level, but coming from such a strong program made the choice a bit easier for Schumer because she knew exactly what to look for in a team.
“The biggest factor in my decision was if I could see myself thriving there as a coxswain,” she said. “I’m really lucky to be part of such a hard-working, driven, close team now, so when I saw those same elements at Duke, I knew it was the right choice. The coaches are great; the program is competitive and committed to success, and the team culture is super supportive.”
Coming from a program that breeds success has helped to make each girl strive for it, but it has also given them a chance to understand that hard work can be rewarded.
“I came so far from when I was a novice,” Schwab said. “And put a lot of extra hours in, time and effort into rowing which is what made me really love the sport and want to commit for another four years.”
Schwab said she decided to keep her process “kind of private,” but she still credits the coaching staff at SRC for helping with getting into the school of her dreams.
“Most of the girls knew that I really wanted to go to BC,” she said. “It was encouraging that everyone was helping me achieve my goals and I was part of helping them achieve theirs. My coach Gordon (Getsinger) was also a big help to make BC happen for me.”
Schwab said Getsinger wrote a recommendation letter that helped with the recruiting process, while Schumer agreed that the support from the staff helped to propel her to this point.
“My coaches Gordon and Anna (Yamamoto) have always pushed me to be the best version of myself,” Schumer said. “Which sounds corny, but it is just so true. My teammates are my second family, we go through a lot together and have so much respect for one another.”
Through the process, the coaches and teammates have been the bedrock, but each girl said how much of an impact the support of their families made for them through everything.
“My family members have always been my biggest fans,” Schumer said. “They have cheered at every finish line I’ve ever crossed.”
As the girls prepare to go through a final season together before shipping off to college the memories over the past four years have stayed with them and will continue to do so as they get ready for the next part of their careers.
It was a difficult process, but it was a process that was necessary and it was made possible through the dedication to each other, the coaching staff at Sauguatuck Rowing Club, as well as, the family effort that helped to reach the point.
While Schumer prepares for to travel to Durham, Schwab to Boston, and McGinley to California the years that each spend in the boat together have proven to be some of the best of their lives.
“Everything worked out the way I hoped,” Schwab said. “And I want to continue to work hard so that I can progress more on the Sauagatuck team and on the BC team.”
ct.com; Twitter: @aronJohnson_