Women's rowing stepping up in class

By The Beacon | April 17, 2013 9:00pm

Women’s rowing earned their second straight Collegiate Team Efficiency Trophy at the Covered Bridge Regatta

UP’s women’s rowing team practices on the Willamette River to prepare for WCC competition. (Photograph courtesy of portlandpilots.com)

By Taylor Tobin Staff Writer tobint16@up.edu

Women's rowing is showing strength this spring with the help of freshman port Molly Templin. She was part of the Pilots' top-eight boat, which won their second straight Collegiate Team Efficiency Trophy at the Covered Bridge Regatta on April 13.

"Through her competence, dedication and excitement, she's leading," Head Coach Bill Zack said. "You don't have to necessarily have done it before, be a senior or have the title of captain in order to provide good leadership."

Templin's athleticism and height have helped her gain a top spot on the team, despite never rowing before. Templin went to Service High School in Anchorage, Alaska, where she earned four varsity letters in track, two in cross country and one in volleyball.

Rowing the stroke seat, which sets pace for the rest of the crew, is a huge responsibility in the boat, and Templin has climbed on board to fill the spot.

"It's a really important role, and the fact that she's stepped up as a freshman, to do that is a really good thing for her and kind of an honor," junior coxswain Hannah Dahlem said. "We've had a couple other freshman try to stroke, but she's lasted through our races and it's really cool for her."

Templin admits that it is nerve-wracking holding such an important role.

"Our coach put me in the boat two or three weeks into the season and I was totally new to rowing. I didn't know what I was doing. I was freaked out," Templin said. "It's scary, but it's exciting too."

Dahlem plays an important role, too. Being coxswain, Dahlem explains, is like being an assistant coach in the boat; she steers the boat and wears a microphone that allows her to communicate with the rest of her team.

"I'm constantly talking to them about their technique and how they can improve," Dahlem said. "I have recordings of myself really intensely yelling."

Dahlem, from Buckley, Wash., did not row in high school, but she earned four varsity letters in softball and two in volleyball at White River High School. Dahlem was on the alpine ski racing junior Olympic team from 2005-2010.

The top eight took home first against tough opponents, Western Washington University and University of Washington in the Husky Open on April 6.

"It felt awesome. It always feels great to beat up on teams that are supposed to beat up on us," Dahlem said. "We weren't really sure about Western going into it, because we hadn't raced them, and going up there and being able to beat them in the first eight was a really big deal for us. It was a good opener to the streak of races we have coming up."

The team has been working on technical aspects of their rowing to prepare for their biggest upcoming race of the WCC Torunament on May 18.

"We take it one stroke at a time instead of looking at it as an entire race, and just really focus on each individual piece," Dahlem said.

Captain starboard Jamie Opra adds that the team's performance gets stronger every race.

"The improvement has been consistent all year. Every race, we get significantly faster and it's promising for the future," Opra said. "Because we have such a young team, it shows the potential for years to come."

The Pilots race Seattle University on April 20 and in the Windermere Cup on May 4 before competing in the WCC Championships. If they win the WCC Championship, they earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.

"I think we're showing that we're serious," Templin said. "We're a D1 sport and you should take us seriously."