Junior rowers head to national, world competitions

From left: Gabrielle Graves, Kate Kelly and Roslyn Bellscheidt in New London, Connecticut. (Courtesy Photo)

From left: Gabrielle Graves, Kate Kelly and Roslyn Bellscheidt in New London, Connecticut. (Courtesy Photo)

Following its debut season, the Burton Beach Rowing Club has had to do without three of its core members for several weeks as Kate Kelly, Gabrielle Graves and Roslyn Bellscheidt have been at USRowing’s Junior National team selection and development camp in New London, Connecticut.

At selection camp, national team coaches put the rowers through their paces to decide which athletes will be in the boats that will compete at the Junior World Championships (U-19) in Racice, Czech Republic, Aug. 8 through 12. At development camp, the idea is to identify the rowers they believe have the potential to make the world championships team at some point, and the best of those rowers are selected to represent the US Junior National Team at some events closer to home, such as the CanAmEx Regatta for the boys or USRowing’s Club National Championships for the girls.

This is the first selection/development camp experience for all three young women, though this was not the first time that Kelly, who will be a junior at VHS this fall, had been invited.

“I received an invite last year, but I wasn’t able to attend,” she said in an email to The Beachcomber. “It has been a long, hard couple of weeks but I am so happy I accepted my invite this year.”

Both Kelly and Bellscheidt have been selected to compete for the development team at Club Nationals July 11 through 15 in New Jersey.

For Bellscheidt, a soon-to-be sophomore who only started rowing 10 months ago, it’s kind of a big deal.

“It’s been an honor to work with so many talented coaches and rowers,” she said, also via email to The Beachcomber. “I have never experienced anything else like it. I will look back at this camp as one of the best times of my life.”

A testament to the hard work and talent of both young women is the fact that of the 50 athletes who participated in this year’s development camp, they are two of 11 that were chosen to compete at Club Nationals. And while some might find the competitive atmosphere intimidating, Bellscheidt and Kelly saw it as more of a bonding experience.

“I am working with a really great group of girls here at camp,” Kelly noted. “They are all very motivated, and it has pushed me to work a bit harder. I love the environment, as all of us are working toward the same goal.”

“It has been amazing to meet so many talented and motivated women who are dedicated to rowing,” Bellscheidt added.

Those adjectives could certainly be used to describe BBRC’s selection camp attendee, Graves, who at 15 years old and rowing for just 18 months, has been chosen for a boat to compete at the junior world champs.

“Everyone has been incredibly friendly and supportive,” she said in her email to The Beachcomber. “Every day I do everything I can to better myself physically and mentally. At this point if I didn’t end up making the team, I don’t think I would really be disappointed in myself because I’ve done my best every day and so has everyone else.”

And the camaraderie among the three might have gone unspoken, had it not been for Bellscheidt.

“It was great to have Kate and Gabbie at camp because when you are 3,000 miles away from home, it is nice to have friends with you,” she said.

— Sarah Low is a Beachcomber reporter and wife of the Burton Beach Rowing Club coach.

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