Three VIJC Alums Reunite at NCAA Women’s Rowing Championships
Rowing in the US is the oldest, intercollegiate sport dating back to 1852 for men and 1875 for women. With such early and humble beginnings more than seven thousand women now participate in the sport annually. This year top teams met the weekend May 30 – June 1 in Indianapolis, Indiana for the NCAA Women’s Rowing Championships which also served as a reunion event for three recent graduates of Vashon’s Junior Crew. Coxswain Olivia Sayvetz (Class of 2011) and rowers Alaina (Laney) Williams (2011) and Avalon Koenig (2012) were thrilled to meet up again at this prestigious regatta.
Olivia will be a senior this fall at Princeton in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and coxed her second varsity eight to a second place finish in the A final. She has become an avid runner and also loves her academic program where she has won a scholarship for summer study in London, Amsterdam and Venice to do research on the effects of sea level rise due to global warming. Olivia cites Vashon for her passion for rowing and gives a call out to former Coach Sam Burns as an inspirational person on her road to Princeton and the NCAA Championships.
Laney will also be a senior, studying Pharmacy at Northeastern University in Boston and was in seat 2 for the varsity eight that placed 18th overall in the regatta. Her six-year program of intensive study that will yield a Doctorate plus the rigors of a top ranked Division I rowing program hasn’t left a lot of free time for the hiking and singing which she also enjoys. This year Laney has been selected for a National Rower-Scholar award and named to the first team of the Mid-Atlantic Region in rowing.
Avalon will be a junior at the University of San Diego and rowed in the sixth seat in the second varsity eight placing 15th in that division. Avalon is a Communications major with a Business minor and has found a way to connect her sport and studies through the creation of videos that show what it is like to row in a collegiate program. With only about 2% of collegiate athletes participating in rowing it remains a mystery sport to many and what motivates the incredibly hard work and dedication for so little glory is revealed through Avalon’s videos. She will be back on Vashon this summer for an internship with the BodyArmor sports drink company for whom she has become a passionate advocate and in which basketball legend Kobe Bryant is a major investor.
All three women want to thank Vashon for the “big hearted” environment that nurtured their development as rowers. The chance to reunite in Indianapolis was a true pleasure and inspirational for each of them. They represent the foundation of a program that has blossomed to national prominence over the past four years and each takes pride in that fact.
By Pat Call