Burton Beach Rowing Club may be newly formed, and most of its athletes are quite young, but their hard work is already being rewarded on the national level.
Gabrielle Graves, a Vashon High School ninth grader, has been invited to US Rowing’s Junior National Team selection trials, which take place in Connecticut, starting in mid-June. Graves will be competing with 40 other athletes for a spot on the U-19 Junior National team, and if successful, will compete at the Junior World Rowing Championships in Racice, Czech Republic, in August. At 15, she will likely be one of the youngest athletes at trials.
The club’s volunteer coach, Richard Parr, wasn’t surprised.
“Gabbie’s natural strength is coupled with a great focus and maturity,” he said. “And she is one of the hardest workers I’ve seen in our sport.”
Gabrielle also spoke about the achievement.
“If someone would have asked me a year ago if I thought anything like this would have happened, I wouldn’t have believed it. I feel like I’ve become a completely different person in every way, and I don’t even know how I got here,” she said. “Every day my teammates and I work very hard, breakdown and then build each other back up again. What really makes us stronger is remembering that we have each other through every struggle and race.”
Also gaining national attention are sophomore Kate Kelly and freshman Roslyn Bellscheidt, both VHS students. The two girls have been invited to USRowing’s U-18 Development Camp, also in Connecticut. This camp targets younger rowers the organization believes have the potential to represent the United State on a national team in the future.
Roslyn is in her first year of rowing, but is putting up some impressive numbers on the rowing machine (erg), and Kate, although only 15, already has an U-19 top-10 finish, coming ninth last year in the pair at USRowing’s Youth National Championships in Florida, with partner Selena Mildon, who is now rowing at Marist College in New York state.
The three girls will be joined by the rest of their club teammates this weekend for competition at one of the spring’s highlight regattas at Brentwood College on Vancouver Island.
—Heidi Tosterud for The Beachcomber