Etna Native Winslow Earns Stroke Seat With URI Crew

  • URI Rowing Resolute Cup, Charles River, Boston, Mass., April 21. © Mike Scott 2018. University of Rhode Island photograph — Michael Scott

  • Emily Winslow, of Etna, second from left, rows the stroke seat for URI at the Atlantic-10 conference championship meet on May 5 in Pennsauken, N.J. The Rams edged UMass and George Washington in the first varsity eight grand final to help capture the conference crown and earn a trip to the NCAA championship. University of Rhode Island photograph

  • Emily Winslow

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/2/2018 12:10:41 AM
Modified: 7/2/2018 12:10:43 AM

Hanover — Emily Winslow might be a little on the shy side when she’s out of the water. When it comes to rowing, she couldn’t be more assertive.

Winslow, an Etna native and 2016 Hanover High graduate, earned the coveted stroke seat for the University of Rhode Island’s first varsity eight boat this spring and helped guide the Rams to the Atlantic 10 conference championship. Making huge offseason strides after primarily sitting in middle seats in the Rams’ second varsity eight as a freshman, Winslow impressed coaches by outwardly requesting the high-pressure first varsity eight stroke seat. Directly in front of the coxswain in the boat’s stern, it’s the position responsible for establishing rhythm and timing for the rest of the rowers.

Winslow’s ambition helped, though it was her momentous skill development that truly merited the promotion.

“Emily is a quiet person, but she’s super competitive,” said URI assistant coach Jessica Lizzi, who joined the Rams the same season as 12th-year head coach and former Olympic medalist Shelagh Donohoe. “It’s rare to have an athlete come up to us and say, ‘I think I could be really good at the stroke. I think that’s really where I’d help the team the most.’ But that’s what she said, and she was right.”

Winslow worked tirelessly to advance, spending much of last summer training in a single scull on the familiar Connecticut River, where she’d spent four seasons rowing for Hanover High, including two seasons as the Marauders’ lead stroke.

Singles rowing is perhaps the most efficient way to train for the stroke seat.

“In a one-person boat, it’s just her, so obviously the rhythm and the pacing is up to her the whole time,” Lizzi said. “I think that was really good for her, and she worked really hard on the physical and technical changes that we asked of her.”

That included what is known as the rower’s connection, the transference of power from the legs through the core, arms, hands and oars. It’s essential for rowers striving to perfect the four stages of a stroke: the catch, drive, finish and recovery.

“A lot of people think of a rower’s power comes mainly from their arms, but it really starts in the legs and has a lot to do with the core,” said Lizzi, who rowed at Rutgers. “And a lot of athletes think of the core as just the abs, though it’s really your whole core that comes into it.

“Really maximizing transferring all of your power to the oar takes an advanced level of understanding technique, and Emily showed this year that she was able to reach that next level. She’s transforming from a strong high school athlete to an elite Division I college athlete.”

A double major in public relations and English, Winslow is also an exceptional student, finishing the year with a 3.95 grade point average and as one of three Rams named to the A-10 all-academic team.

Winslow has made Rhode Island’s dean’s list all four semesters of her college career thus far, adjusting to extra workloads both in the classroom and on the water. Training periods run from 5:45-9 a.m. every weekday morning, and athletes are assigned additional “post rows” to perform on their own time.

Not that there is much of that.

“I was actually kind of used to the early morning practices, because we had them my freshman year at Hanover,” Winslow said. “You have to have breakfast after practice, because the dining halls aren’t open beforehand. In all honesty, it’s probably good for time management because it kind of forced me to get all of my homework done during the day, just because you can’t stay up too late when you have those early morning practices.”

Winslow’s first varsity eight boat started the spring season with a photo-finish loss to Drexel at the George Washington Invitational, but the Rams got even the next week in Philadelphia with an eight-second victory over the host Dragons in the Kerr Cup.

On April 21 in Boston, Winslow helped the Rams capture the Resolute Cup — the annual competition between URI and Boston College — although the occasion was bittersweet because the Rams were edged in the same race by her hometown team, Dartmouth.

“That was a little disappointing, but Dartmouth has some really good rowers,” Winslow said. “At least it’s always good to beat BC.”

It was then onto the A-10 championships on May 5 in Pennsauken, N.J., where URI finished in 6 minutes, 37.5 seconds, less than three seconds ahead of defending champion UMass. The Rams’ second varsity eight also prevailed to help spur a 51-46 team win over the Minutemen, URI’s fourth conference title in the last seven years overall.

“We had a really good race that day,” said Winslow. “UMass has been our rival, especially at that race. We had to have a really solid race.”

The Rams went on to place 21st in late May at the NCAA Championships in Sarasota, Fla., matching UMass’ best-ever finish for an A-10 team the previous year. Still, the result fell short of the Rams’ goals.

“I know we can place a lot higher than that, which is one of the reasons I’m so looking forward to next season,” Winslow said. “The goal is to be top 10 (at NCAAs) by senior year.”

Already named sophomore class captain this spring, Winslow is embracing an increased overall leadership role as an upperclassman next season. Her coaches expect nothing less.

“She’s so competitive and focused that when she has something to say, her teammates know to listen because it’s going to be important,” said Lizzi. “I consider her a model college athlete, and her leadership is part of that.”

In the meantime, Winslow is competing in several singles races this summer, including the U.S. Rowing U-23 trials in Princeton, N.J., next weekend.

“I hope to keep rowing singles after college, and I don’t know how realistic it is, but I want to go for (the U.S. national team),” Winslow said. “But for now, I’m just focused on (URI) being faster and better next year.”

With Winslow in one of the lead spots, that’s a strong possibility.

Jared Pendak can be reached at or 603-727-3225.

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