After winning gold at the Youth National Championships by more than five seconds last year, the Deerfield Girls Crew Team returned from Sarasota, Florida with the title once again. The Girls first boat was coached by Eve Goldenberg, Miriam Singer and Sonja O’Donnell, and consisted of Claire Collins ’15, Eileen Russell ’15, Paige Cleary ’17, Katie Livingston ’15 and coxswain Garam Noh ’15.
Goldenberg reflected on the overall season: “I didn’t necessarily believe that it was talent enough to win this year, mostly because of inexperience, but I couldn’t help but feel as though the program was building by leaps and bounds, exponentially, every day, and that everyone was working super hard and adapting and improving.” She also stated, “This year people knew we were coming – they had actually watched our season because of last year’s win.”
On May 23rd, at the New England Interscholastic Rowing Association Regatta, the first boat won gold for the second time in a row in the 1,500 meter race, qualifying the girls for the Youth National Championships, with a time of 5:30.399 minutes, leading Newton Country Day School by more than 7 seconds (5:37.480) and The Winsor School by more than 8 seconds (5:38.808).
Eileen Russell ’15 acknowledged, “We knew that if we raced our best races, we would take home the gold.” However, in order to prepare for Nationals, the girls faced a grueling period of training, because they needed to adjust from a 1,500-meter race plan to a 2,000-meter race plan, which required practice twice a day and a significant increase in mileage.
At Nathan Benderson Park, where The Youth National Championships were held, the boat placed third in the Semi-Finals and therefore entered the Finals with the fifth fastest time. In the final race, the boat was not always ahead. For the first 500-meters, the boat was sitting in third, but the crew kept taking seats. By the 1000-meter mark, the boat was ahead and, according to Russell, rowing the “perfect race.” The Girls rowed their way to the Gold Medal finish in the 2,000-meter race with a time of 7:10.3, beating Upper Natoma Rowing Club (7:14.0) and Green Lake Crew (7:17.5).
Goldenberg declared, “The primary feeling was pride, such pride. I don’t think I’ve felt that way before…Everyone committed in a way that pushed them differently and harder than ever before. They were angry, and focused, and ready to do something absolutely new.”
Goldenberg attributed that success to the depth in the boat and concluded, “Claire, Eileen and Garam each bring something different—they are all sick and fierce competitors, but each has a different sort of poise, and each knows, really knows, the value of work. Katie has one of the most beautiful strokes, and she ‘set up’ the boat so well that everyone in front of her simply felt a sort of confidence—she is this quiet force that allows boats to work. And Paige brought all the vigor of a young, new rower combined with the mental game of a seasoned athlete.”
Russell ’15 said of next year, “There are some incredibly talented girls on the team who will definitely make strong first and second boats this coming season…Needless to say, you have not seen the last of Deerfield Girls Crew!”
Victoria Castellano-Wood ‘16 and Anne Trapp ‘16 will captain the team next year. Eileen Russell will go on to row at Williams College, Claire Collins at Princeton University, Katie Livingston at Wellesley College, and Garam Noh will cox at Harvard University.
After an outstanding season, the Boys Crew Team rowed their way to third at Youth Nationals for the second year in a row. The first boat—Gordon Johnson ’17, Bryce Klehm ’15, Alex Devries ’15, Caleb Friends ’16 and Dani Michelson ’17—coached by Spencer Washburn went into NEIRAs unsure of fierce rivals Belmont Hill School and Groton School.
Johnson ’17 acknowledged, “During the season, I thought maybe we could get second at NEIRAs and then possibly go to Nationals, but I had no idea we would make it that far.” The boat went on to win NEIRAs and qualify for Nationals with a time of 4:52.124 minutes in the 1,500 meter race, beating Belmont (4:57.244) and Groton (4:59.513).
After receiving gold, Johnson ’17 stated, “We trained at Deerfield twice a day for about a week and a half, rowing out of the UMass facilities. We trained at 6:30 in the morning and then again at around 3 p.m. When we finally got to the first race at Nationals, we didn’t really know how fast we were compared to the crews across the country.”
At Youth Nationals, the boat ended up winning their initial heat and winning the semi-final race by beating Bromfield Acton Boxborough by two seconds. “After not having raced in almost three weeks,” Head Coach Spencer Washburn commented, “they showed very little rust and immediately put themselves on the short list of contenders in their event. They followed the heat up with a great effort in the semi-finals on Saturday, where they again crossed the line first.”
In the finals, the Boys crew battled from start to finish in a volatile race with the best high school crew teams in the country. Deerfield took third with a time of 6:32.58 minutes behind Bromfield (6.31.04) and Lyme-Old Lyme (6:32.01).
“When we got to the finals,” Johnson ’17 reflected, “we put everything on the line and raced as hard as we could, but it wasn’t enough.”
“No one blinked or backed down,” Washburn said of the final race. “It was a fantastic race to watch as those three crews (Deerfield, Bromfield and Lyme- Old Lyme) all stepped up in the biggest race of the year and threw down incredible efforts. It was certainly a race that could have been won by any of the three boats, and while we were hoping for a slightly different result, I am very proud of the way the boys represented themselves and our program on the national stage. They’re a special group.”
Bryce Klehm ’15 concluded, “It was a great season with the whole team in general. And I know I speak for Alex and I when I say it was a privilege to have Coach Washburn our senior year. I could not have asked for more.”
Bryce Klehm will go on to row at the University of Pennsylvania, and Alex Devries at Brown University. Friends and Johnson will be captains of the crew team next year.