Madeline Linnell ’17
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—“Rowing makes hurting look easy,” said Gordon’s Rowing Club Team Captain Maddie Hopkins ’18. She said this with a smile on her face, while watching boats plunge through the Charles River. Despite rowing’s painful endowments, it is plain to see that Hopkins is something of a “rowing junkie.”
The Tartan reporter found her in this glowing state at the 52nd Head of the Charles Regatta (HOCR), one of the most highly esteemed rowing races in the world. Olympians compete in this two-day event, as Hopkins so candidly pointed out when she noticed a Silver or Bronze medalist paddling past. Though, HOCR is not necessarily exclusive to A-list athletes. It features a wide range of participants, from amateurs to professionals, seniors to adolescents, veterans to newbies. Registration operates under a type of lottery system, and through it, Gordon found its way to this prolific regatta last year. Barely a few months old at the time, the team entered both the Men’s and Women’s Championship Doubles.
The team has continued to attend high-profile races this year, as well, such as the Head of the Fish, Dad Vail Regatta and C.R.A.S.H-B’s Indoor Sprints. Not only are they participating in these competitive venues, but they are also performing at a successful rate. The Gordon men finished fourth at the Head of the Fish and, just last weekend, defeated Boston College in doubles. Hopkins earned seventh place in singles. The captain attributes Gordon’s remarkable strides to Coach Gemme.
Only Hopkins returned to the HOCR this year, though. She raced in the Women’s Club Singles, finishing in 25 minutes and 32.342 seconds. Her competition included rowers from Carnegie Mellon and University of Massachusetts.
Hopkins has rowed for the past nine and a half years. In other words, she really likes rowing. She likes it so much that she launched the Gordon Rowing Club program last year. Although, the fact that Gordon did not have a rowing team to begin with posed a serious problem for Hopkins. As a prospective high school student, she considered accepting NCAA Division I athletic scholarship offers instead, but she ultimately denied these opportunities that promised excellent rowing for a college that did not even have a team.
Hopkins said she wanted a humbling experience when it came to collegiate rowing—an environment that would encourage worship of the Christian God and not of the self, no matter how good one is at rowing. Rowing itself is “very much an act of worship” for Hopkins.
“It’s not about you, but about God. You as an individual don’t really matter in this sport,” she said.
Rowing in the HOCR is especially significant for Hopkins. Gordon’s club captain jokingly said, “I grew up here!” The Charles Regatta is a Hopkins’ family ritual. Her father and mother are active members of the national rowing community; her eight siblings also share enthusiasm for the sport. Attending the HOCR, in other words, makes a high-priority.
Though Hopkins and the rest of the Gordon team is scheduled to finish the season this Saturday against Endicott, the Fighting Scots’ drive to pursue excellence leaves them hungry for yet another Head of the Charles appearance.