Junior Erin Boxberger (center) won a gold medal for the United States in the W8+ event at the Under-23 World Rowing Championships this summer

Irish Rowers Look To Build On Successful International Summer On Water

Sept. 30, 2013

By Renee Peggs

No drama. No ego. This is not about you.

So reads a recent Tweet from University of Notre Dame senior rower Molly Bruggeman. Pretty humble words from a woman whose list of accomplishments and honors is longer than an eight-boat.

Most notably, Bruggeman was one of 21 rowers named last year to the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) Pocock All-America first team. In June, she received the invitation again. That recognition propelled her into an elite class of only two rowers in Notre Dame history to secure multiple first-team All-America honors.

Easily stowing her ego, Bruggeman took an international opportunity at the Under 23 World Championships in July to cheer on Notre Dame teammates who were also members of top-10 finishing crews.

“Racing in Linz, Austria was an amazing experience,” Bruggeman said. “Not only was I representing the United States and Notre Dame on an international level for the second time but I was joined by two of my teammates, Erin Boxberger and Ailish Sheehan.”

Sheehan, the first international Notre Dame rower to qualify for the Under 23 World Championships, aided Ireland’s W4- boat to the top time in their repechage heat to also earn a trip to the A final. The Ireland entry captured a top-five result after placing fourth in the Grand Final in Austria.

Freshman Hilary Shinnick, also representing her home country of Ireland, was a member of the B final winning boat at the World Junior Championships in the W2x, placing seventh overall in the event in August.

Bruggeman raced in the U23 women’s quad, which is a historically competitive event at the international level. The American crew ultimately placed sixth in a competitive championship race that was won by Romania.

“The collegiate rowing system in the U.S. is dominated by sweep rowing and does not emphasize a lot of sculling,” Bruggeman said. “So it was fun to develop my skills as a sculler this summer and race at such a high level. After qualifying directly through from our heat, the Grand Final race was one of the hardest and closest races I have ever competed in. It was amazing to have six boats across all within 3.5 seconds at the finish line, and I couldn’t more proud to be have been a part of it.”

Bruggeman brings her now-veteran understanding of world-class competition back to the 2013-14 Irish rowing team.

“I took this summer as a great learning experience and hope to continue that success into this season with the Irish,” she said. “As we enter into our first year in the Atlantic Coast Conference and we look to another shot at the NCAA Championship, it helps me to keep races like that Grand Final in the back of my head to keep me focused and motivated for what’s to come with another exciting year with the Irish.”

Boxberger was actually a member of the U.S. W8+ boat that won the gold medal at the championships in Austria.

“Standing up on the podium, receiving our gold and listening to our national anthem was overwhelming and amazing,” Boxberger said. “I felt so completely proud to represent a country where there are opportunities for any athlete to advance to the highest level and prove what they can do.”

The luck of the Irish crossed other international borders this summer, as teammate Ellen Gleadow discovered last month at the 2013 Canada Games. Racing for her home province, Gleadow and other U23 rowers from British Columbia steered a course to gold medals in both the W2x and W4x events.

“Team Ontario was our biggest competition,” Gleadow said. “Many of their rowers came straight from the U23 World Championships. The races themselves were pretty exciting with challenging water conditions on the first few days, with wind delays and boats swamping. We faced stiff competition in both the quad and the double; we definitely had to fight for our medals.”

For the Fighting Irish women’s rowing team, success is best when it’s shared.

Notre Dame will send select crews to compete at the 49th Head of the Charles Regatta on Oct. 19-20 in Boston, Mass.