Life on a Rowing Scholarship by Fiola Foley

 

This is an article that appeared in IrishRowing.com by Fiola Foley. Fiola rowed with Killorglin Rowing Club and won a scholarship to Boston University in the late 90’s. 
<p align=”center”><font face=”Georgia, Times New Roman, Times”><b><font size=”2″ face=”Perpetua”><font color=”#f5970a”>Life
on a Rowing Scholarship</font></font></b><font size=”2″ face=”Perpetua”><font color=”#ffffcc”><br>
<br>
by Fiola Foley<br>
<br>
<b>My name is Fiola Foley. I row for nine months of the Year for Boston Univ,
Women’s Crew Team, and in the summer, for Killorglin Rowing Club – the new
addition to the IARU. In 1997 I began to explore the option of obtaining a
rowing ‘scholarship’ from a University in the States. I knew they looked at fast
ergs (I was pulling a 7.10 as a junior) and I thought it would help to make the
difficult transition from being a Junior rower to a Senior. I narrowed down my
choices to Boston Univ. and Brown Univ, ultimately choosing Boston as it offered
more for me in terms of education and a rowing program.<br>
<br>
</b></font><b><font color=”#0099cc”>Big Girls</font><font color=”#ffffcc”><br>
<br>
Arriving in America was definitely a shock to the system. I felt like a fish out
of water. People had trouble understanding me (not familiar with Kerry dialects
in this part of the world) and I did things differently. I was also having
difficulty being part of a ‘team’ in every sense of the word. I was used to
quiet rivers at home and being on my own, training on my terms in my little
single scull. All of a sudden I found myself part of a team of 60 American girls
in big boats, all wanting to be heard all of the time. However it wasn’t long
before I made my presence felt. As soon as we began erging, people began to take
notice of the ‘little Irish girl’. Most of the girls were intimidated by this
5’7″ foreigner who lifted more and pulled harder than most of the bigger
girls, and it felt great. I was pretty much ahead of the pack my freshman year,
I came from a pretty intense junior year at home (4th place Ghent 1x, won Jun.
Champ 1x and made Coupe and Homes team 1x) and was more than ready to
rock’n’roll, to show them that “its not the size of the dog in the fight
but the size of the fight in the dog that counts” ( Winston Churchill). I
began my rowing career at BU in stroke seat of the 1st Freshman VIII and have
held on to that same seat, stroking the 1st Varsity in my second year and so
far, so good, this year to date.<br>
<br>
I don’t mean to sound self-centered in this article, more to show people at home
what it is like to be one of the 5 Irish Rowers in America on rowing scholarship
(Amy Lawless UMass Amherst, Sean Casey Temple UNiv Philla., and the two new
additions to the pack, John Whooley and Paul O’ Sullivan UCAl Berkeley). Because
I think people at home don’t know that it is like as the two systems are worlds
apart. We rise at 5am most mornings for training at 5.30 and get off the water
again at 7.30 in time for those who have class at 8am. Then we train again in
the afternoon, lifting 3days a week and LSD every day also. In between we fit in
classes and study, being expected to maintain no lower than a 70% average in
college work or otherwise we will not be eligible to participate in inter-
collegiate athletics.<br>
<br>
</font><font color=”#0099cc”>Winter Work</font><font color=”#ffffcc”><br>
<br>
Our season at BU begins with ‘Fall’ racing which in the States is like a season
in itself, the average American collegiate rower competing in about 5 Head style
races. This is not really considered a serious part of our racing, more in
preparation for the Spring. As soon as the Charles river freezes in mid-Nov. we
come off the water. Then comes the shock of winter training. The Charles river
freezes during the cold winter months in America, necessitating a grueling
schedule of land training. 6,000 mtr erg tests once a week with a healthy dash
of 4x2km in between. Our coach Holly Hatton (Olympic 2- coach and 1980 Olympic
cox.) never fails to surprise me in her capacity to devise the most horrific
workouts imaginable. We even have a triathlon in Dec. consisting of a 7,500mtr
erg, a 6 mile run, followed by 62 stadium stair climbs in Harvard Univ. Football
arena, I have yet to complete it without throwing up at the finish line. But, it
makes you stronger. Inner team competition is always present as the upcoming
rowers always feel the need to beat the older ones to prove a point. It also
encourages team participation and comaraderie, forcing the stronger athletes to
‘bring up’ the weaker.<br>
<br>
Winter training is broken up with a 10 day camp in Miami Beach Florida, all paid
for, from the 2nd until the 11th of Jan. This is primarily used to break the
monotony of indoor training until we go back on the water in March, and to
improve our technical skills. Its a fun time and relaxed, lots of sun-bathing in
between rowing. Its a tease however as we have to return to Boston for college
and back to indoor training for another couple of months until March. Come March
we are itching to get an oar in out hands. Even though it is snowing outside it
still beats erging. We go back on the water as soon as the ice breaks, it is
still freezing but who cares. This is when things start getting serious.<br>
<br>
On the Varsity there are usually 25 to thirty girls all fighting for places in
various boats, the 1st Varsity VIII, the 2nd Varsity VIII, and then a Varsity
four. Some people will not even make a boat to race in the Spring, left on the
sidelines to support the team, but never fully take part. We seat race for 2
weeks practically every day during a 10 day Spring Break from college. It is
probably the hardest thing I have ever done. We go over and over the same
course, switching lineups, combinations, until the coach is satisfied that she
has found the fastest combination for race season. It is heart breaking for some
people who never make a boat and rewarding for those who achieve their goals,
the realisation that all the hard work has finally paid off. As soon as this
training camp is over and the boats are set, we start racing.<br>
<br>
</font><font color=”#0099cc”>Race Time</font><font color=”#ffffcc”><br>
<br>
Spring racing is done over 2,000 meters but not over 6 lane courses, it is a
duel type race, boat against boat, college against college, not unlike Henley
Regatta. There are a series of these races, 12 in total throughout the Spring,
the results of which determine where your boat is ranked in relation to the
other boats in the country and in your ‘league’.Boston University is a member of
the Eastern Sprints League, a selection of Division I colleges who compete
against each other, the fastest college boats on the East coast. The top eight
boats in this league are invited to compete at the National Collegiate Athletic
Association (NCAA) National C’ships. Last June, they were held in California.
Our entire team got invited, all three boats, and the 1st varsity VIII (stroked
by the Irish girl)rowed to an eight place finish. This year was a definite
turning point for the BU women’s team. National Champions in ’91 and ’92
unfortunately since then the program had spiraled downhill, not even obtaining
invites to Nationals until this year. Making it to Nationals was a big
achievement and doing well was even more than we had expected. Even more to our
credit was the small issue of not having any boathouse for the last year, we
were visitors in other boathouses along the banks of the Charles, living with
our enemies…until the unveiling of the brand new $7,000,000 ‘DeWolfe
Boathouse’ the weekend of the ’99 Head of the Charles regatta (those of you from
home who competed in the Head can drool in jealousy).<br>
<br>
</font><font color=”#0099cc”>Henley</font><font color=”#ffffcc”><br>
<br>
As a reward for just making it through the year successfully, our coach and team
fundraised for a trip to Henley, England, for some eye opening international
racing experience. We made it to the semi’s but got knocked out by a big GBR
composite crew, getting warmed up to challenge for the National Team spot. After
the season at BU, I go home, take a few days off and sit into the 1x, aaaahh
heaven! It feels rocky at first but it isn’t long after I get into this swing of
things. This year I didn’t have much time to get ready for the Champs in Ireland
(2 weeks) but when you are fit it makes things a lot easier. I went into them
thinking “why not, I’ve nothing to lose” and knowing that I just
couldn’t sit and watch on the muddy banks of Inniscarra. SO I competed, and won
the Inter. 1x. making a comeback. Then getting selected for the Homes 1x, a
stepping stone on the way to bigger and better things.<br>
<br>
This year I am sculling as much as I can, I’ve already won an event and am
competing this weekend in the Head of the Schuylkill, doubling up with the VIII.
In general life is good and I know that it is as good as it is because rowing is
heading in the direction I want it to go… I am winning</font></b><font color=”#ffffcc”>g.</font></font>

This is an article that appeared in IrishRowing.com by Fiola Foley in 1999. Fiola rowed with Killorglin Rowing Club and won a scholarship to Boston University in the late 90’s. 

Life on a Rowing Scholarship

by Fiola Foley

My name is Fiola Foley. I row for nine months of the Year for Boston Univ, Women’s Crew Team, and in the summer, for Killorglin Rowing Club – the new addition to the IARU. In 1997 I began to explore the option of obtaining a rowing ‘scholarship’ from a University in the States. I knew they looked at fast ergs (I was pulling a 7.10 as a junior) and I thought it would help to make the difficult transition from being a Junior rower to a Senior. I narrowed down my choices to Boston Univ. and Brown Univ, ultimately choosing Boston as it offered more for me in terms of education and a rowing program.

Big Girls

Arriving in America was definitely a shock to the system. I felt like a fish out of water. People had trouble understanding me (not familiar with Kerry dialects in this part of the world) and I did things differently. I was also having difficulty being part of a ‘team’ in every sense of the word. I was used to quiet rivers at home and being on my own, training on my terms in my little single scull. All of a sudden I found myself part of a team of 60 American girls in big boats, all wanting to be heard all of the time. However it wasn’t long before I made my presence felt. As soon as we began erging, people began to take notice of the ‘little Irish girl’. Most of the girls were intimidated by this 5’7″ foreigner who lifted more and pulled harder than most of the bigger girls, and it felt great. I was pretty much ahead of the pack my freshman year, I came from a pretty intense junior year at home (4th place Ghent 1x, won Jun. Champ 1x and made Coupe and Homes team 1x) and was more than ready to rock’n’roll, to show them that “its not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog that counts” ( Winston Churchill). I began my rowing career at BU in stroke seat of the 1st Freshman VIII and have held on to that same seat, stroking the 1st Varsity in my second year and so far, so good, this year to date.

I don’t mean to sound self-centered in this article, more to show people at home what it is like to be one of the 5 Irish Rowers in America on rowing scholarship(Amy Lawless UMass Amherst, Sean Casey Temple Univ Philla., and the two new additions to the pack, John Whooley and Paul O’ Sullivan UCAl Berkeley). Because I think people at home don’t know that it is like as the two systems are worlds apart. We rise at 5am most mornings for training at 5.30 and get off the water again at 7.30 in time for those who have class at 8am. Then we train again in the afternoon, lifting 3days a week and LSD every day also. In between we fit in classes and study, being expected to maintain no lower than a 70% average in college work or otherwise we will not be eligible to participate in inter-collegiate athletics.

Winter Work

Our season at BU begins with ‘Fall’ racing which in the States is like a season in itself, the average American collegiate rower competing in about 5 Head style races. This is not really considered a serious part of our racing, more in preparation for the Spring. As soon as the Charles river freezes in mid-Nov. we come off the water. Then comes the shock of winter training. The Charles river freezes during the cold winter months in America, necessitating a grueling schedule of land training. 6,000 mtr erg tests once a week with a healthy dash of 4x2km in between. Our coach Holly Hatton (Olympic 2- coach and 1980 Olympic cox.) never fails to surprise me in her capacity to devise the most horrific workouts imaginable. We even have a triathlon in Dec. consisting of a 7,500mtr erg, a 6 mile run, followed by 62 stadium stair climbs in Harvard Univ. Football arena, I have yet to complete it without throwing up at the finish line. But, it makes you stronger. Inner team competition is always present as the upcoming rowers always feel the need to beat the older ones to prove a point. It also encourages team participation and comaraderie, forcing the stronger athletes to ‘bring up’ the weaker.

Winter training is broken up with a 10 day camp in Miami Beach Florida, all paid for, from the 2nd until the 11th of Jan. This is primarily used to break the monotony of indoor training until we go back on the water in March, and to improve our technical skills. Its a fun time and relaxed, lots of sun-bathing in between rowing. Its a tease however as we have to return to Boston for college and back to indoor training for another couple of months until March. Come March we are itching to get an oar in out hands. Even though it is snowing outside it still beats erging. We go back on the water as soon as the ice breaks, it is still freezing but who cares. This is when things start getting serious.

On the Varsity there are usually 25 to thirty girls all fighting for places in various boats, the 1st Varsity VIII, the 2nd Varsity VIII, and then a Varsity four. Some people will not even make a boat to race in the Spring, left on the sidelines to support the team, but never fully take part. We seat race for 2 weeks practically every day during a 10 day Spring Break from college. It is probably the hardest thing I have ever done. We go over and over the same course, switching lineups, combinations, until the coach is satisfied that she has found the fastest combination for race season. It is heart breaking for some people who never make a boat and rewarding for those who achieve their goals, the realisation that all the hard work has finally paid off. As soon as this training camp is over and the boats are set, we start racing.

Race Time

Spring racing is done over 2,000 meters but not over 6 lane courses, it is a duel type race, boat against boat, college against college, not unlike Henley Regatta. There are a series of these races, 12 in total throughout the Spring, the results of which determine where your boat is ranked in relation to the other boats in the country and in your ‘league’. Boston University is a member of the Eastern Sprints League, a selection of Division I colleges who compete against each other, the fastest college boats on the East coast. The top eight boats in this league are invited to compete at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) National C’ships. Last June, they were held in California. Our entire team got invited, all three boats, and the 1st varsity VIII (stroked by the Irish girl) rowed to an eight place finish. This year was a definite turning point for the BU women’s team. National Champions in ’91 and ’92 unfortunately since then the program had spiraled downhill, not even obtaining invites to Nationals until this year. Making it to Nationals was a big achievement and doing well was even more than we had expected. Even more to our credit was the small issue of not having any boathouse for the last year, we were visitors in other boathouses along the banks of the Charles, living with our enemies… until the unveiling of the brand new $7,000,000 ‘DeWolfe Boathouse’ the weekend of the ’99 Head of the Charles regatta (those of you from home who competed in the Head can drool in jealousy).

Henley

As a reward for just making it through the year successfully, our coach and team fundraised for a trip to Henley, England, for some eye opening international racing experience. We made it to the semi’s but got knocked out by a big GBR composite crew, getting warmed up to challenge for the National Team spot. After the season at BU, I go home, take a few days off and sit into the 1x, aaaahh heaven! It feels rocky at first but it isn’t long after I get into this swing of things. This year I didn’t have much time to get ready for the Champs in Ireland (2 weeks) but when you are fit it makes things a lot easier. I went into them thinking “why not, I’ve nothing to lose” and knowing that I just couldn’t sit and watch on the muddy banks of Inniscarra. SO I competed, and won the Inter. 1x. making a comeback. Then getting selected for the Homes 1x, a stepping stone on the way to bigger and better things.

This year I am sculling as much as I can, I’ve already won an event and am competing this weekend in the Head of the Schuylkill, doubling up with the VIII. In general life is good and I know that it is as good as it is because rowing is heading in the direction I want it to go… I am winning

2 thoughts on “Life on a Rowing Scholarship by Fiola Foley

  1. Elizabeth

    Fiona,

    Reading your blog was inspirational . I am in awe of any young person who can choose a path so young and has the tenacity and perseverance to stick with it, so congratulations and hold on tight to that quality . !!!!

    I am writing to you asking your advice re rowing in the states . My daughter Lizzie is just 17 and will be doing the equivalent of Leaving Certificate next summer . Her average is 85 but she says she would need to sit SAT to be considered for a rowing scholarship . . Are you lad you went to the states ? Could you give me any advice into being accepted . She’s out this evening but just got a spot rowing for Nova Scotia ( heavy weight ) at Canada Games this summer in Quebec.

    My very best wishes to you today and always,
    Liz chute

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