By Eric Odegard
For Burton Beach Rowing Club
Burton Beach Rowing Club’s Brigit O’Rourke realized a long held ambition when she made the rowing team at the University of Washington (UW) this past week.
As one of approximately 40 “walk-ons” trying to make the crew, O’Rourke was evaluated through a series of tests that involved the rowing machine, long runs, and on-water rows, and was over the moon when she was told that she had made the prestigious squad, which is consistently at or near the top of US college rowing.
“Since the first time I walked into a boathouse when I was 13 years old, I realized rowing is my passion. I’m overjoyed and grateful to have earned this opportunity to continue living my dreams,” said O’Rourke, who is studying pre-med.
O’Rourke rowed as an 8th grader and then took a few years away from the sport. But she found she really missed rowing, and was drawn back to it in 12th grade when she joined the club at Burton Beach.
Unfortunately, COVID prevented any official racing in her senior year, but Brigit dedicated herself to training, taking a very early ferry from her West Seattle home six mornings per week to be on the water under the guidance of BBRC coach Richard Parr.
“Brigit’s work ethic has always been amazing, and throughout COVID, she actually dug deeper every day, even though there was no racing for her. She is incredibly driven, and a great teammate. Brigit may well be the smallest Husky rower, but she’s just so easy to coach and there is always 100% commitment from her, which is why her selection at UW doesn’t surprise me at all,” said Parr.
O’Rourke said, “Through rowing at Burton Beach, I learned the importance of dedication, integrity and teamwork. These ideals and Richard’s unconditional support are what inspire me to grow as a rower. At UW, I will continue to push myself to become faster and stronger every day, and I know I can always count on the support of my teammates and coaches, both at UW and at Burton Beach.”
The only downside to O’Rourke’s selection is that her planned race as a Burton Beach crew this weekend at UW’s Head of the Lake regatta, in the Parent/Child double sculls with her dad Shawn, now has to be withdrawn.
But both father and daughter wouldn’t have it any other way.