After watching former teammate Emily Morley ’16 represent the Bahamas in the single sculling event and Meghan Musnicki ’05 win gold as part of the United States women’s eight boat at the Olympic Games, the Ithaca College sculling team has an extra source of motivation for the new season.
“We all knew Meg was an Olympian, and there was a lot of IC pride that she went to our school and rowed for IC crew,” senior Tara Malone said. “But once Emily Morley said she wanted to try and make it to the Olympics? Well, that’s our teammate — that’s our friend. And that was super cool.”
The sculling team lost seven seniors, and the team was already small — 16 members last year, compared to more than 60 members on the crew team. But with extra inspiration, the team is hoping to carry its success from last season into this year.
The Bombers are looking to use their small size to foster a sense of community. Malone said she’s expecting the new members to contribute right away and the seniors to make sure the team gets into a groove.
“We’re losing a lot of people who graduated, but there’s a lot of young talent on this team that has expressed their interest in sculling, so that’s exciting,” Malone said. “I think we’ll have more experienced crews this year, which means fast racing.”
The squad is returning multiple standout scullers, including Malone and senior captain Rachel Dowd. Dowd collected a third-place finish in the singles event at the Head of the Genesee in Rochester, New York, as well as first- and third-place finishes in team competitions in the Seven Sisters Regatta in Northampton, Massachusetts, and the Head of the Schuylkill in Philadelphia, respectively. Malone captured a third-place finish in the doubles competition at the Collegiate Small Boat Challenge in Mercer, New Jersey.
Malone said she and the other veterans worked to keep the team focused but also created a strong bond among the teammates.
“I think we hit our stride earlier than we had the season before and really got to get into the more gritty pieces earlier in the season,” Malone said. “Everyone brought their game faces, but also brought their goofiness, so it was a really nice mix of work hard and play hard.”
This upcoming season, the team will be competing in five meets total. Some notable events include the Head of the Genesee on Oct. 8, the Head of the Schuylkill on Oct. 29 and the Collegiate Small Boat Challenge on Nov. 5.
Dowd said the team typically recruits new members from the college’s crew team who may be looking for a different type of challenge.
“Although anyone can try out for the sculling team, it tends to be members of the crew team looking for another competitive season in a different type of boat,” she said.
In the offseason, Dowd said, members of the team work out on their own but stay in contact to maintain their focus. To earn a spot on the team, every recruit must complete a 2,500-meter time trial in a single boat.
The team also worked with Morley last winter and in the spring to help her train for the Olympics.
“A lot of us did her extra training with her over the winter and early spring,” Malone said. “It allowed for our team as a whole to improve much more than I think we would have otherwise that year. Once she found out that she made it, we didn’t have as many extra workouts, so instead we just seamlessly switched to emotional and mental support. It didn’t feel like only Emily was going to the Olympics — it felt like all of us were going.”
Dowd said achievements of past team members serve as a major inspiration for the current and future rowers, and despite the team’s size, there are still opportunities to succeed.
“We know that some of the best have come from our team and that if they can make it, we can too,” she said. “It’s a good reminder to us that just because we’re a DIII team does not mean we can’t be the best. We’re really big on being small and mighty. Small team, big determination.”