Raw Power: Hanover’s Julia Golder Signs NLI to Join UCLA Women’s Rowing Team

  • Julia Golder, of Hanover, has signed to attend UCLA as a member of the rowing team. Golder stands for a portrait in Hanover, N.H., Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — James M. Patterson

  • Julia Golder, of Hanover, has signed to attend UCLA as a member of the rowing team. Golder spoke with Josh Weinreb of the Valley News in Hanover, N.H., Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

  • Hanover's Julia Golder comes down with the rebound with Windham's Steph Davis behind her during their game in Hanover, N.H., on Feb. 28, 2017. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News file photograph

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/22/2018 11:06:56 PM
Modified: 11/22/2018 11:13:01 PM

Hanover — Julia Golder was looking for something to do in the spring season as a freshman at Hanover High. She grew up a soccer and basketball player, throwing herself into basketball when she got to high school. Rowing, Golder said, found her.

“It was kind of something where I was like, ‘Oh, you’re tall. You can try it, I guess,’ ” Golder said during an interview on Wednesday in Hanover.

It took a few weeks for her to fall in love with it. Four years later, Golder signed her national letter of intent to join the University of California-Los Angeles women’s rowing team next year, becoming the latest female student-athlete to continue their rowing careers at a collegiate level from Hanover head coach Julie Stevenson’s budding crew program.

But Golder, Stevenson said, is a special case.

“She’s got the perfect attitude for a rower,” Stevenson said over the phone on Wednesday. “Team before self, that’s the first thing. She doesn’t care if she gets the credit. ... In rowing, there’s no Michael Jordan, right? It’s really all about crossing the finish line together. Nobody is given all the credit for making it happen. (Golder) is a selfless teammate. She has that attitude.”

Rowing was never on Golder’s radar until high school. Like many of her teammates, she started as a raw rower from scratch. Golder fell for just how different it was from the other sports she grew up playing.

“It wasn’t like you’re communicating with teammates even though you still are, a lot,” she said. “You just have to be in the same rhythm as them.

“It was probably that first year I started to fall in love with it,” Golder added. “I guess racing, the adrenaline. I would probably say I’m definitely an adrenaline junkie. During the race, even though it’s so hard, it’s just so much fun in the end.”

Golder’s technique in the boat has been a work in progress. She’s been used in the fourth, fifth and sixth seats in the boat — the positions Stevenson calls the “engine room” for strong rowers that provide most of the boat’s power. Last year, she moved up to Hanover’s first boat in the final stretch of the spring season, finally showing progress with her technique.

Stevenson said her skill still is raw as she commits to one of the Pacific 12 Conference’s more competitive rowing programs.

“Her technique has been a struggle, but she’s been working at it. I think she would tell you the same,” Stevenson said. “Her freshman year, here we have this kid who has a strong work ethic, which I knew because I had seen her play other sports, with a strong body but she couldn’t wrap her brain around technique. The bigger you are, the more you disrupt a boat.”

Golder also is a three-year member of Hanover’s girls basketball team; she averaged 7.4 points per game in 17 games last winter. Choosing between the two was a tough choice, she said.

“I always thought I’d be playing basketball in college,” Golder said. “I wanted to explore ... I think I have a higher ceiling in rowing than I do in basketball. Last Christmas, we started emailing schools to see what their response was. My dad and I went out (to UCLA) over the summer, they invited me back for an official visit. I hadn’t met the girls yet, but I really liked the coaches.”

UCLA head coach Amy Fuller Kearney was just as taken by Golder’s work ethic as Stevenson was.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have Julia joining our Bruin family,” Fuller Kearney said in an email. “I am impressed by both her character and her competitive nature. She’s a friendly, approachable and hard-working student-athlete who absolutely loves to compete. She will be a supportive teammate and a tenacious racer.”

The Bruins have placed sixth overall three times in the last three seasons at the Pac-12 rowing championships.

“It’s kind of surprised me because not a lot of girls from Hanover go on to rowing, or it’s their second sport,” Golder said of both her interest and recent success in rowing. “It seems like a lot to take on in college. ... It seems like it’s becoming more of a thing in Hanover.”

Stevenson, who has been coaching the program since Hanover had it as a club team in 1998, said the program has grown significantly since it first started; the Marauders had 130 males and females come out for rowing last spring — more girls than boys — representing a seventh of the school’s student body. Hanover was the only public school to place on the girls side at the New England Interscholastic Rowing Championships.

It’s also a unique sport that usually draws student-athletes from the school’s freshman class.

“That’s what my job is. It’s not like hockey or basketball, where these kids start when they’re 4 years old,” Stevenson said. “It’s a one-season sport that only lasts about 10 weeks.”

Golder is nowhere near alone in joining a strong rowing program in college; Emily Winslow, a 2016 Hanover graduate, now rows for the University of Rhode Island. Heather Stafford, one of Golder’s teammates this season, is headed to Syracuse rowing next fall. Stevenson said about two-thirds of her team go on to row in college at varying levels of competitiveness.

“I think UCLA sees that raw potential, that stuff you can’t teach: mental toughness, team work ethic, team-before-self,” Stevenson said. “Sometimes it’s the personality. Julia has all of that.”

“(Golder) is not alone. We’ve had a lot of kids that have been part of our program that row in college,” she said. “I feel like we’re welcoming Julia into a legacy of people of Hanover who love rowing. I’d say ‘Welcome to the club.’ ”

This is an important season for Golder, Stevenson said, as she continues to hone her technique before college, building enough confidence and skill to make her mark when she gets there.

“I think Julia is a little bit more of a raw package with a whole lot of potential,” Stevenson said. “With a little bit of fine tuning, this season will be her strongest. I think this’ll be her most successful season.

“It was not a hard sell for UCLA. She has all the ingredients.”

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.

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