row2k kicks off our 2014 collegiate previews featuring an interview with Wellesley senior rower Becca Kimball. Kimball made the switch from basketball to rowing her freshmen year and hasn't looked back.
row2k - How did you get your start in rowing at Wellesley?
Becca Kimball - I was a Varsity basketball player at Wellesley, and the novice rowing coach, Austin Work, played the drums at all of our home games and sometimes practiced with us. He convinced me that I should try crew for fun, so I joined the novice team my freshman spring.
row2k - Why did you make the switch from basketball to rowing?
Becca Kimball - During the 2011-2012 year, I took a year’s leave-of-absence from college, in order to work in Nicaragua during the summer, to study in Spain during the fall, and to work for the New England Obama Campaign finance office during the spring and summer. During that spring/summer I also rowed for the women’s master’s team out of CRI. It was the first time I was focusing only on rowing, since I wasn’t also playing basketball, and I realized that I had a lot of potential. So when I returned to college in the fall, I knew that if I wanted to truly succeed in crew I had to give up basketball, because I was spreading myself too thin.
row2k - You trained at one of the USRowing Development camps over the summer, what did you learn there that will help you in your senior season?
Becca Kimball - Last summer 2013, I participated in the U23 Pre-Elite Camp at Syracuse. There were 10 of us coached by Justin Moore, and we focused exclusively on sculling, which I had never done before. It was an incredible experience to be working so closely with such a renowned coach and 9 other young women with the same goals as me. Coming from a Division III program, I had a very different background than most of the other women there, and learning about their teams and training was really helpful in terms of realizing what I would have to do if I want to succeed at the next level.
row2k - What do you like most about the sport of rowing?
Becca Kimball - I have been an athlete my whole life, and athletics have profoundly shaped my identity. They have taught me how to work together on a team, how to assume and exercise leadership, how to persevere despite disappointment and failure, and how to endure pain and fatigue. Athletics have given me confidence and also humbled me. But rowing is unique in the world of athletics. The ultimate team sport, it requires that you merge your individual self with the eight others in your boat, creating one cohesive unit of nine, powering down the racecourse. You surrender individual pride when you enter an eight-oar shell—there is no such thing as a successful rower, only a successful crew. Rowing demands pain, passion, endurance, integrity, and will power, and the only way to thrive in the sport is to do things that your body is telling you that you cannot.
row2k - What has been your most memorable race so far and why?
Becca Kimball - This past fall 2013, I was the only returner from the Varsity 8+ and our boat was made up of 2 seniors, 6 sophomores, and 1 freshman. We had no expectations going into the fall since we were a completely new team (we had just graduated 10 seniors), and I had no idea what would happen. Our first race was the Quinsigamond Snake Regatta, and we were bow number 2. In the last 2k of the race the third boat caught us, and we were bow to stern. But our young boat, over half of whom had only rowed for one year, would not accept that, and we fought back, pulling away and coming in first. It was the kind of race you always hope to have—the pure, uncompromising drive of 9 people who will do everything in their power to win.
row2k - How has this season gone, and what are your goals for the spring?
Becca Kimball - We got gold in the Snake Regatta, came in 8th at Head of the Charles, and won the Seven Sisters Championship. We have a long way to go this spring if we want to make our 5th consecutive appearance at NCAAs, because we are so young and inexperienced. But we have one of the best head coaches in the country in Tessa Spillane, and I know that if we put in the work and have the desire we showed in the Snake Regatta, we can get back to Indianapolis in May.
row2k - What are you studying at Wellesley and do you have any plans yet for after college?
Becca Kimball - I have a double major in Economics and Spanish. I am really interested in development economics in Latin America and working with NGOs or local businesses. I have applied to a few graduate schools and fellowship programs but have not made a decision yet!
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