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On the boat to success: senior Katy Ward to row at the University of Michigan next fall

Mark Ward

Senior Katy Ward verbally committed to the University of Michigan, a NCAA Division 1 school. She also received offers from Duke and Princeton. “Katy's very driven and determined to do her best in rowing. I think Michigan will be very happy to have her," St. Louis Rowing Club coach Tim Franck said.

Susie Seidel, Parkway West High School

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Following years of creating a name for herself in the rowing world, senior Katy Ward committed to row at the University of Michigan next year, the number one school in the NCAA Central Division for the sport.

Her journey began when the St. Louis Rowing Club (SLRC) visited the school in the fall of 2014, Ward’s freshman year.

“You do a piece [on the rowing machines], 125 meters as fast as you can. The goal is to not fall off the seat,” Ward said. “I was the last hour of the day, and I had the fastest time of the girls for the day.”

This caught the attention of the SLRC head coach Tim Franck, who motivated her to try out for the novice team. At first, it required a limited commitment, and since she had not planned to be involved in a fall or spring sport, Ward decided to try it.

“I decided I really liked it, I was meeting a bunch of girls I normally wouldn’t get to know from all walks of life, so I decided to stay over the winter to get better because it’s a great opportunity,” Ward said. “We got a new coach for the spring, and the head coach decided to invite eight girls to practice up with varsity. That spring I got to race with the varsity team and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

For the past three years, Ward has broken records, been named co-captain of her team and contributed to the statistical success of the SLRC.

“We do 2000 meter time-trials on the rowing machines and as a 10th grader Katy broke a long-standing record,” Franck said. “Katy’s very driven and determined to do her best in rowing. She’s also put a lot of effort towards refining her technique and become a more effective rower on the water. Over the last 13 months she has improved a lot and contributed significantly towards her team’s success.”

This success caught the attention of Division I schools. Ward went on three official college visits to Duke, Michigan and Princeton this fall.

“I went on my Duke [visit] first. It was better than I expected, but I didn’t feel like I belonged, I didn’t get that feeling. It sounds cheesy but it’s true,” Ward said.

Her next visit was Michigan. She had visited the school previously, but was able to see it from a different perspective, observing practices and meeting the team.

“It reaffirmed I really liked it,” Ward said. “My dad told me he really saw me fitting it in Michigan.”

The following week, Ward visited Princeton, and was faced with a difficult decision.

“I ended up making a list of the qualities [of each school] and really thinking through it. I asked my parents what they thought. My mom said Princeton was a great opportunity. I got really upset and I didn’t know why, but it was because my mom told me something I didn’t want to hear. I wanted to hear she wanted me to go to Michigan,” Ward said.

This realization led Ward to contact the Michigan coach with a verbal commitment. The coach had happened to be in a coaches meeting at the time, and the rowing program expressed congratulations. She will sign this November with the fall signing group and begin rowing on the first day of class in the fall of 2018, with plans to continue the sport after college.

“Katy’s very driven and determined to do her best in rowing. [To be successful,] set realistic, but challenging individual goals. Listen to your coaches, and row the way you want to row,” Franck said. “I think Michigan will be very happy to have her.”

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