Photo by Elaine Harvey
As the red class of ’16 celebrated through Senior Week—taking in a ballgame at Fenway or going on a brewery tour—Loren Lock ’16 and six other seniors were working up a hard sweat. As their classmates marched across the commencement stage, Lock and her teammates were 3,000 miles away, reaching for oars instead of diplomas.
“Honestly, I would have been profoundly disappointed to have attended commencement,” says Lock. To the veteran rower, it would have meant that the Blue Crew had not had a successful season. But there they were in Gold River, Calif., on graduation day—preparing to represent Wellesley for the seventh year in a row at the NCAA Division III Women’s Rowing National Championships.
Within hours, Lock’s Varsity Eight boat and Wellesley’s Second Varsity Eight had won both of their heats, defeating Bates, the 2015 national champion, and Williams, a longtime rival, to advance to the Grand Finals in both events. The next day, thanks to a gold medal finish for the Varsity Eight and a silver for the Second Varsity Eight, the team became the first in Wellesley history to clinch an NCAA national championship. They were also the first team in history from a women’s college to win a national rowing title.
‘I have loved watching them become the tremendous young women they are, have loved watching them lead their team, strive for excellence in all areas, and then actually reach the pinnacle of DIII rowing. What a legacy.’
Co-captains Meg Roberts ’16 and Olivia Thayer ’16 attribute the squad’s success to their attitude—acknowledging that they had what it took to win a championship. “Once the whole team was on board,” they say, “we could tackle every single day, and every single workout, by recommitting ourselves to the big goals we had set.”
They also point to a positive and supportive team culture. “One of our tenets this year was ‘uplift a teammate,’” they say, which might take the form of a fist bump during a tough erg workout or hugs shared after a close seat-race. Lock notes that selflessness was a hallmark of the group. “We are exceedingly competitive with each other,” she says, “but every person on this team is willing to cede her seat to someone who can make the boat move faster than she can.”
Along with the championship trophies, the seniors came home with “Scholar Athlete” commencement stoles, commencement programs, diploma cases, red roses, and photos from the athletics department—all given to them in a special graduation ceremony organized by head coach Tessa Spillane and assistant coaches Seth Hussey and Hannah Woodruff ’11. More than 80 parents and friends attended.
Lock says she has no regrets about missing the end-of-year festivities. “I spent my final weeks at Wellesley with many of my closest friends practicing for and competing at a national championship for a sport that I absolutely love,” she says. “There wasn’t another way I would have rather ended my Wellesley career.”