The fulfillment of a long-held dream came last Tuesday, Nov. 8, for Vashon High School senior Riley Lynch, as National Letter of Intent Day (for sports other than football) saw her commit to Stanford University’s rowing team.
Lynch, who also received offers from Duke and Princeton, said in an email to The Beachcomber that she has been California dreaming since childhood.
“I visited all three schools,” she added, “but as soon as I stepped onto the Stanford campus, I knew it was where I wanted to be. I have never felt so at home with a group of people that I barely even knew the names of.”
Lynch, now in her second year as Vashon Island Rowing Club’s junior women’s captain, has been rowing since she was in the eighth grade and has never looked back.
“I fell in love with rowing right away,” she explained. “And it is the type of sport where if you take a season off, you fall behind your competitors. It forced me to get used to the idea of hard work every day for four years.”
While Lynch’s hard work on the water saw her earn bronze medals at both USRowing Junior National Championships and World Rowing U19 World Championships this year, it was her equal dedication to her academic work that sealed this deal.
“I have always given a very strong effort in the classroom and have dedicated myself to having good grades,” Lynch said. “While all three schools gave me offers to be on their teams, Stanford actually offered lower aid on the rowing side of things. Surprisingly, this excited me even more about the school because without being bound to the team for financial reasons, I know I will be able to focus on my enjoyment of the sport, rather than doing it because my tuition depends on it.”
Looking ahead, Lynch credits her participation in junior crew with skills she believes will help her as she moves on.
“Due to the fact that I rowed throughout high school, and rowing is a very time-consuming sport, I had to learn good time-management skills, which helped me to become a better student,” she said. “I believe that this will help me throughout my college career as well.”
Lynch is not the first one in her family to see her junior crew tenure open collegiate doors, since older sister Taegan Lynch, VIRC ’14, was recruited to the University of Miami. And in her crew “family,” her former junior women’s pair partner — and co-Nationals bronze medalist — Rhea Enzian, followed a similar path of hard work both on and off the water to a team invite and acceptance to Dartmouth College, where she is currently a freshman.
As pen-to-paper made it official, the smile on Lynch’s face was the real prize.
“I have dreamed of attending Stanford since I was a little girl,” she said. “Rowing has shaped my life in incredible ways, and I am very excited to continue the next four years of my rowing career at Stanford University.”