Patch Athlete of the Week: Boston Latin School Crew Coxswain Sara Kiritsy
Kiritsy, a sophomore last year, went to Nationals with BLS's lightweight squad this spring.
West Roxbury is often considered a hotbed for youth and high school sports. From Parkway Pop Warner to Parkway Lacrosse, and with the Catholic Memorial School offering Division 1 samplings all year long, the neighborhood has its share of every sport imaginable.
One sport you may not think of right away, though, is crew. A strong rower, though, West Roxbury boasts. Boston Latin School junior-to-be Sara Kiritsy coxswains the Boston Latin School's lightweight team, earning in the process a trip to Nationals in Tennessee this past spring. Kiritsy, whose sister Caroline also rowed with BLS and now rows for Duke University, talked to Patch about how she got to know about the sport, some common things people don't know about crew, and about following in her sister's footsteps in the sport.
Even though it's widely recognized in Boston along the Charles, not just anyone gets into rowing. How did you get into the sport, and how does it feel to be able to row on the same water as squads from Harvard and MIT, and participants in the Head of the Charles?
Six years ago my sister joined the team at BLS and that’s the first time I ever heard about crew. I would attend her races every weekend which is basically what pulled me into the sport. Even though I was not officially on the team, I felt like I was because the BLS crew community is so welcoming. It’s amazing to row on the Charles with colleges like Harvard and MIT. It’s a great feeling to know that I’m sharing the same river with such amazing colleges.
Talk more about Caroline. What effect has her experience had on your rowing? Do you hope to follow her footprints and row at the collegiate level?
Caroline was the reason why I joined the sport. If she had never joined six years ago I know I would never have. Yes, in a way I am following in her footsteps, but at the current moment I’m really not sure if I want to carry over crew into college. The college level of crew is incredibly competitive and I am not sure yet if I will continue it in college.
Describe the experience of participating at Nationals this past year as a sophomore.
Nationals was such a great opportunity for me. Oak Ridge, Tennessee has such a beautiful venue and it was an incredible feeling just simply to be there. It was incredible how many schools and clubs were there, from all over the country. Yes I was only a sophomore but I didn’t let that intimidate me. We went down there to show how wonderful BLS crew is and I think we proved it. It was not only me though, I raced with four amazing girls [Seniors Rae-Taylor Burns of the South End, Katie O'Neil (Charlestown) and Maddie Johnson (Roslindale) and sophomore Teresa Frappaolo (North End)] who gave it their all and I couldn’t have asked for more!
You are the coxswain on the lightweight squad. As a sophomore on a team with three seniors, did you struggle to assume that leadership position at all? Why or why not?
At the beginning of the season we choose three captains to help and lead our team. The captains were all seniors who we all look up to. I didn’t need to fight for leadership because everyone on the team is so close that if you need to say something, don’t hold back. My job is to keep everyone in the boat is focused and safe. The girls realize as well that when we are on the water I have to take responsibility for everyone and the boat. Leadership on land can be a little difficult to receive but it's nothing that can’t be handled.
Was it difficult to transition from the program's previously only coach in Gillian Curren to first year coach Shayne Rowan this season? Did the team seem to respond well to the switch?
Losing such an amazing coach as Gillian Curran was extremely difficult for everyone on the team but in return we got such a gifted coach, Shayne Rowan. Immediately she clicked with the girls. She put a different twist on rowing. Shayne brought new ideas to the team that helped us succeed in many ways. The girls on the team including myself responded so well. From the very beginning we all loved her. Shayne just seemed to fit in perfectly, like she’d been coaching us for years!
What are three things about crew that people should know that they may not already?
1) A lot of people look at rowing as not a real sport. They watch a team on the river row and they make it seem so easy. People think that it’s effortless, anyone can do it. It takes time and effort to pull off such an amazing sport like rowing.
2) Rowing is probably one of the biggest team sports you’ll find. Not one person can move the boat. In order to succeed every single girl in the boat has to give it there all if they want to cross the finish line.
3) Many people also think that rowing is all arms from what they see but truthfully it is 60% legs, 30% abs and 10% arms. When I tell people that they always think I’m lying but that’s the truth.
Want to nominate a Patch Athlete of the Week? Contact Adam Vaccaro at firstname.lastname@example.org.