Giancarlo DiPompeo and Teagan Orth are about to embark on an adventure they will never forget.
This moment in which they are currently in is the final month of preparations after a rather tumultuous year of training during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the boats have been selected (Giancarlo is in the Men’s Quad, and Teagan in the Women’s Quad), the training is in the final stages, and shortly they will leave for Bulgaria. I spoke with Giancarlo and Teagan last week to discuss their excitement and preparation for the Junior Worlds, and they reflected on the moments that led up to their admission to the Junior National Team.
Just like most of our Junior athletes at SCRC, it was not until high school that Orth and DiPompeo began rowing. Teagan had been a basketball star, but decided to leave the sport shortly after beginning rowing in pursuit of the Junior National Team, while Giancarlo had been a multisport athlete. His coaches saw potential in him shortly after he began rowing, and when he was made aware of the opportunities available in this sport, he quickly became a dedicated rower. For these athletes, the global pandemic could have impeded their progression in these crucial years of development. However, they were not deterred from reaching their goals. Teagan says she has improved her fitness greatly despite having to train mostly alone, and Giancarlo kept his eyes on his goal, “When COVID happened, I tried to keep up my fitness level, while getting ready to go to university, so I felt motivated to continue training despite the extra challenges of COVID. I wanted to pursue the SCRC push for Henley Royal, which was unfortunately delayed again because of the pandemic. Luckily, my coaches at St. Catharines let me know that the opportunity with the Youth National Team was still available and I should keep my options open”. Giancarlo reaffirmed his gratitude for the coaches at SCRC various times throughout our conversation.
“I learned how to row at SCRC. It’s such a fun place. I made some of my best friends there." Teagan Orth
It is clear that both of these athletes have remained humble and gracious throughout this exciting period in their lives. While some might let the success of making the junior national team in a pandemic go to their head, Giancarlo and Teagan agree that they would not be here without the guidance of their coaches, “having to train indoors this past year because of COVID was a challenge, for sure”, said Giancarlo, “but we were still able to go out on the water eventually. But that time of sculling in singles really helped me improve. The coaches I was working with, Brain Fisher especially, were the reason I was able to get so much out of training in this pandemic. Even when we were isolated and training at home, Brian would send us workouts and monitor our progress to ensure that we hit our goals. I have a lot of respect and gratitude for the coaches at SCRC. I owe them a lot”. Beyond agreeing with Di Pompeo, Teagan also reflected on the club as a whole, and the plentitude of fond memories she has of her time at the club, “I learned how to row at SCRC. It’s such a fun place. I made some of my best friends there. I feel the same as Giancarlo, you get great racing experience and development at SCRC”. They will certainly rely on the racing experience with SCRC this August, as COVID has ceased any opportunities to race prior to the World Juniors. They are taking the challenge in stride, though, knowing that the preparation they have done with Rowing Canada, and SCRC prior to that, has been successful.
“I knew this was my goal, and I just put in the work, and now here I am on the team. So that tells me that it’s time to look to the next goal”. Giancarlo Dipompeo
After the World Juniors, both Giancarlo and Teagan will begin university. Having graduated as valedictorian from Denis Morris, Giancarlo will begin his Mechanical Engineering degree at the University of Victoria. Teagan, a St. Francis graduate, will be a collegiate student athlete as well, at the University of Virginia, studying Speech and Communication Disorders, with intentions of getting a Masters Degree in Speech Pathology. Beyond their ambitious academic goals, both have their eyes on the Olympics. This opportunity with the Junior National Team has shown them what they are capable of, and how much potential of theirs remains untapped, “I’ve kind of surprised myself, I guess,” Giancarlo reflected, “and I have a newfound understanding in myself for being able to push to the next level. To even be thinking realistically about the Olympics means that I can go farther than I used to think possible. This past year has been an exercise in perseverance, and I’m just happy to be here”. As for Teagan, “I’m capable of more than I think of. Two years ago when I started the Next Gen program with Rowing Canada, making the Junior National Team was my goal. And now that I’m here, I’m ready to look forward to my next goal of making the Olympics”. They agree it was a quick turnaround from them discovering rowing to representing their country. And in thinking about where he is standing now, Giancarlo speaks for them both when he says, “I knew this was my goal, and I just put in the work, and now here I am on the team. So that tells me that it’s time to look to the next goal”.
Lauren Kelly is a junior at the University of Notre Dame, where she competes on the rowing team and majors in history and Irish studies. A long time member of the St. Catharines Rowing Club, she recently stepped into the role of social media coordinator for the club.
St. Catharines Rowing Club
The St. Catharines Rowing Club has a long tradition of competing at the highest level in the sport of rowing.