“Rowing is a sport of perseverance,” said West Virginia freshman rower, Colleen Giesbrecht. The future of the West Virginia women’s rowing team looks bright as ever with a competitive novice squad full of youthful rowers willing to learn and push themselves mentally and physically every day.
Giesbrecht, originally from St. Catharines, Ontario, played almost every sport she could while growing up. When the opportunity arose for her to try rowing as a new sport, she jumped in headfirst.
“When I was 10, my mom signed my older sister and I up for a ‘learn to row’ camp with St. Catharines Rowing Club. I absolutely loved the camp and did it for two more summers,” Giesbrecht said.
“Then my sister joined our high school rowing team her freshman year. That summer, she rowed competitively with St. Catharines Rowing Club and I volunteered at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta, which is a very competitive regatta on our home course, Martindale Pond,” she said.
“When I was volunteering one day, I saw a St. Catharine’s boat come off the water with gold medals around their necks and as they walked up the dock everyone started clapping and I thought, ‘I want to win this race and have people clap for me.”
When she got to high school, Giesbrecht’s career began to take off. She fell in love with the sport of rowing and rowed during the spring, summer and fall with no off-season.
This was how Giesbrecht developed as an athlete and knew she wanted to pursue an opportunity to become a college athlete at the DI level.
After speaking with head coach Jimmy King, West Virginia quickly caught Giesbrecht’s eye. She wanted to become a West Virginia Mountaineer.
“I had been emailing coaches and met Coach King and Coach VO (Stacey Van Order) at the Henley Regatta. From there it was a typical recruiting process. I came to WVU for a visit in the fall right before early signing week and then signed less than a week later,” Giesbrecht said.
Although the grueling practices and endless hours spent training can sometimes be difficult, the fact that there is no off-season, especially for a sport as physical as rowing, is a motivational tool when learning to persevere.
“We have to train inside on the ergs for the winter and staying motivated can be very difficult some days when all you want to do is be out on the water,” Giesbrecht said.
“As of right now, I am just focused on finishing up this season and the next three years here at WVU. In the future, I will definitely stay involved with the sport whether that be through coaching or continuing to row.”
As her freshman year at West Virginia comes to a close in just a few weeks following the Big 12 Championships, Giesbrecht says her first year has been a rewarding experience, to say the least.
“It has been a very rewarding experience being on the team here. The team has been very welcoming and made me feel very at home here,” she said.
“My best memory so far this year was putting on the West Virginia uniform for the first time. It was so exciting to be representing my school for the first time and my family came to watch so that was really special.”
St. Catharines Rowing Club
The St. Catharines Rowing Club has a long tradition of competing at the highest level in the sport of rowing.