DARIEN, Conn. – Four years ago, Liz Trond started the Connecticut Boat Club in Norwalk to give high school girls a high-level rowing program that could compete with the top teams in the nation.
In June, the seniors who helped put the team on the national rowing landscape and keep it there will compete for Connecticut Boat Club for the final time, Trond said.
The team’s spring season starts this weekend in California at the San Diego Crew Classic. Seniors Katie De Haas, Jessica Ferrante, Haley Bower, Isabel Fitter, Sarah Konishensky, Courtney Lincoln, Juliet Ruhe, Kendra Shutts, Paige Voigt and Meg Galloway have developed an unbreakable bond.
“Our senior class is one of the closest,’’ said De Haas, a Darien resident. “They’re all my best friends. I could be around these girls every day. Missing out on social events with friends at home can seem like a bummer at times, but I am making my own memories by doing what I want with people I love, and nothing beats that. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
The senior class at CBC had high standards to meet. CBC has earned a national reputation with its performance in the sport’s most significant meets, including the U.S. Youth Rowing Championships in June.
“There’s definitely a lot of pressure,’’ De Haas said. “I remember looking up to the older girls when they were seniors. That team the first year was great, and it’s something we always strive for. We have the determination. We aspire to be like them. They set the bar pretty high.”
De Haas joined the team as a freshman, but missed most of her junior year due to three bulging discs in her back. She returned this year and has earned a berth on CBC’s Varsity 8, the club’s top boat.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve come further than I thought, but I’ve come a long way since my freshman year,’’ she said. “I always had a goal in mind. Anything I love that much, I go after it and I trained hard to get there. I’m surrounded in that boat by some of the fastest girls in the country. I think the fact that I worked for a year to come back shows how amazing the team is and how amazing Liz is. I came back for myself, but also because my life without the team and Liz just wasn’t the same.”
De Haas will compete in college for the University of California at Berkley. CBC teammates Shutts and Ruhe also committed to Cal.
"Being involved with rowing at this level is intense, hard work," De Haas said. "We work all day, every day, as hard as we can.”