By Dan Marro
With an expanded and younger roster this year, the Sacred Heart University women’s rowing team is looking forward to a new season.
“I’m really excited about what’s to come,” said junior team captain Anna Sufczynski. “We are getting new girls with more experience, which will only make us better.”
With the first race of the fall season already under their belt, assistant coach Jackie Smith is looking forward to seeing what her girls can accomplish not only now but in seasons to come.
“We have a relatively young team so it was very exciting to see where we are, but it’s even more exciting to see what the future holds,” said Smith.
A younger roster like this one usually relies heavily on veteran leaders such as Sufczynski.
“It’s great that we have older girls on the team and our five captains have been great, especially with our roster expanding,” said Smith. “They’re role models, their job is to lead by example and that’s exactly what they’ve been doing.”
“As a new member everything kind of gets thrown at you, but the girls like myself that have that experience really help the girls that lack the experience to have more confidence and just understand that it’s just going to take some time and practice,” said Sufczynski.
For Smith, this year brings a new outlook as well as additional motivation. Smith competed in the 2016 Paralympic games in Rio and was able to bring home a silver medal for the United States. This award is something she and Sufczynski feel can help motivate their team.
“She [Smith] really shows us as players that if you work hard you will be rewarded, and I think she is such a great example of that,” says Sufczynski.
Sufczynski goes on to praise the hard work and leadership qualities that her coach embodies.
“We all have the desire to do well but sometimes lack the motivation, and that’s what makes Jackie so great because she motivates us both verbally and by example,” said Sufczynski.
“As a young coach I think it is very important for the players to understand that I’ve been in their shoes before,” said Smith. “As I continue to push them and make them work harder, I want them to really understand I went through the same thing.”
As far as the goals that Smith is setting for the team, she expects a lot from her players.
“Personally I am expecting more than what I’ve seen from them,” said Smith. “We’re excited to see how they do going forward and to actually race teams in our conference.”
There are a few things Smith would like to be able to say about her team following the fall season.
“I’d like to say that we went to the Head of the Charles in Boston and qualified for the following year,” said Smith. “Thousands and thousands of teams come and compete at this event, so to finish in the top 50 percent would be something I’d be extremely happy about.”