Burke, McGinleys headed to rowing world championships
Published 6:07 pm, Tuesday, August 9, 2016
Harry Burke spent most of his upbringing like many Westport youth, playing traditional sports like basketball, soccer and lacrosse. One fall arrived at age 14, and Burke looked to get into shape for the upcoming basketball team. Burke considered running like most students, but a friend suggested that he picked up rowing, an activity he had no previous interaction with.
It turned out to be a decision that would be life-altering.
Less than two years after picking up the sport Burke was named to the U.S. Junior National Team and will compete at 2016 World Rowing Junior Championships, which takes place from August 21-28 month in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Burke, along with sisters Grace and Kelsey McGinley will represent Westport at the showcase event for the top youth rowers from across the globe. Forty-six Americans were selected to go to the completion, which will feature men’s and women’s four, men’s and women’s quadruple sculls, men’s and women’s eight and men’s four with coxswain lineups.
Burke was at another developmental camp when he got the call to the main roster.
“I think still it hasn’t really hit me,” Burke said. “A coach said they were sending four kids up to selection camp; when I heard that I started laughing I couldn’t believe it.”
All three have trained at Saugatuck Rowing Club since starting high school, with the McGinleys beginning their quest in middle school in recreational boats. For Burke, it was a passion that arrived after slowly adjusting to life in the water.
“To be honest when I started I wasn’t a huge fan it; I didn’t really get it,” Burke said. “I just kept showing up and I started to see myself make quantifiable progress, and the quality of the rowing got better. I was able really appreciate it.”
The hobby quickly became a serious commitment for Burke. He was off to Portland, Oregon immediately after school finished to participate in a developmental camp, and won't return to town until the first day of school at Staples.
Grace began in sixth grade at the recreational level, and Kelsey—two years younger than her sister--soon followed. Grace was invited to the developmental camp a year ago but didn't make the roster; this season she and Kelsey--who will be one of the younger representatives at 15 years old— both received the positive news.
“I’m excited just to see other teams and be in a different environment,” said Kelsey. “We going to get to learn who the girls who we are going to be racing with for the next few years.”
The pair have won championships at every level and are coming off an outstanding season at SRC. The pair we both in the eight at the 2016 USRowing Youth National Championships, and each won gold—Grace in the same boat, Kelsey in the youth eight in 2015.
The biggest win came at the 2015 Head of the Charles, the largest rowing event on the planet. Kelsey helped the youth eight set a new course record and Grace helped the junior eight win gold.
Grace will be a senior at Staples this fall and has already begun preparing for the. She said she’s in the process of narrowing down her list and will soon be making official visits. Both are with the rest of the national team at Princeton University preparing for the World Championships.
Often in the same boats, the McGinley’s have an unspoken bond.
“We don’t have talk to each other or look at each other in the boat,” Grace said. “We see it as a business relationship on the water but we are still sisters.”
“We’re more teammates, it’s also great,” Kelsey said. “Both of us love winning a lot; I’d rather have Grace in the boat because she will make it go faster.”
The trio all added that they were fortunate that Saugatuck was in close proximity. The team recently began morning classes to compliment the afternoon schedule at one of the top well-respected rowing clubs in the country.
“I’m excited to get international experience,” said Grace, who was on the selection list a year ago but didn’t qualify. “It’s going to be amazing racing.”