Driven, Passionate and Talented
How NCI’s newest hire excels at leading her team to success both on the water and in the office!
A Brief History of Rowing
Do you row? Dating back to the 15th century BC Egypt where the first non-transportation reference was made to the sport in an Egyptian funeral carving, rowing has enjoyed a long and distinctive reputation through history (1). Mentioned by Virgil as part of the funeral games for Aeneas, and a feature of regatta races during the Middle Ages in which the Italian Carnevale pitted the nation’s best rowers against one another (1), rowing has long been a hallmark of important events and a symbol of strength, power and grace. Modern rowing competitions began emerging later in history when taxi operators offering services across the Thames River in London would compete with each other for prize money put up by London’s guilds, and the first recorded race in the US took place in the New York harbor in 1756 (1). Since then, rowing has been a hallmark sport on U.S. college campuses and is considered one of the oldest intercollegiate sports in America (1).
Think football is popular? 80 years ago, that was simply not the case. Beginning with a challenge between Yale and Harvard and Yale in 1852 which marked the first intercollegiate boat race, rowing launched onto the scene and was the most prevalent and popular sport in college for several decades (1). In 1903, the Intercollegiate Rowing Association was founded as the world’s first scholastic organization devoted to the sport of rowing (they eventually joined the NCAA), later followed by the advent of rowing as an Olympic sport in 1900. The US won two gold medals in 1900 and 1904, but was subsequently beat by England in 1908 and 1912. This led to the use of college teams, rather than professional teams, to represent the US in the Olympics and resulted in a win at the 1920 Olympic Games when the U.S. Naval Academy represented the US (1).
Today, collegiate rowing has been eclipsed by the popularity of football and basketball, but the sport still maintains a stronghold in 91 college programs across the country, many of which offer substantial scholarships to help offset the cost of tuition (1). Reference: 1. Athnet. (2018). The history of the sport of rowing. Retrieved from https://www.athleticscholarships.net/history-rowing.htm
An Interview with a Buckeye Champion
Catherine McNutt, EI
BS in Civil Engineering, The Ohio State University
Catherine McNutt, one of NCI’s most recent hires, is not only a graduate of one of these highly esteemed rowing teams, but a four-time BigTen Champion, who has also placed 2nd at the NCAA’s! Learn more about Catherine, rowing, and her career journey to NCI in the interview below!
A Team Player and Leader
Catherine excels at whatever she does because she knows both how to lead, and how to be part of a team.
A true Buckeye at heart, Catherine and her friends make sure to share love for their alma mater both at home and abroad!
OSU Rowing Traditions!
One of my favorite traditions is singing off your teammates. Each school has their own fight song that they will cheer on their teammates as they push off the dock when they head out to race. My team also ended race day by singing Carmen Ohio together on the bus ride home.
We held a skit night every year – and this year the seniors presented different versions of our head coach.
Another tradition, this one worldwide, is that if your boat wins, the crew gets to toss their coxswain into the water. And since they’re the smallest on the team, they often get thrown far!
Frequently Asked Questions
When did you first get interested in rowing?
Did your sister row in college?
Where were your teammates from?
What other sports and activities did you do as a child?
Is it possible to row if you don’t live by a lake?
How does rowing work?
How long are the races?
Are there any rowing traditions?
Future rowing plans?
I plan on coaching high schoolers in the spring when their racing season begins. I’d love to give back to the rowing community and all the support people have shown me.
How does rowing relate to engineering?
Rowing is a very technical sport. There’s a saying that in the first month you can learn 90% of the stroke, but you will spend a decade mastering the final 10%. Everything from the angle that your blade goes into the water, to how you apply the pressure throughout the stroke makes an impact on how the boat runs. I really enjoyed getting to learn the details and trying to find the best method- which is how it relates to engineering for me. We kept track of many factors, including heart rate, weight, and our power output on the indoor machines to manage how we were performing in relation to ourselves, and compared to each other. We also managed the equipment when we traveled, derigging the shells and often resembling Jenga trying to fit everything on one trailer. Teamwork and communication were critical in every aspect of what we did, and is also a key part of engineering.
What got you into engineering in the first place?
Mostly my family. My dad is a mechanical engineer, and his father a physicist. Growing up I was always helping out with projects and asking questions, and I really liked the challenge of designing and building my own.
Was it challenging to balance school and rowing?
I’m glad I did rowing in college, but I’ll admit that it was extremely stressful at times trying to balance practices, travelling, and my classes. One semester I had an 8:00 AM class and had to do the workouts before it, waking up at 4:40 AM everyday to get out to the river in time to make it back for the lecture. That semester I also had a night class twice a week until 9:00 PM, starting right after our weekly test pieces in the evening. If it wasn’t for my teammates I wouldn’t have continued past the first few months on varsity – with 4 hours a day of practices I was continually exhausted in classes. However, it was an experience like no other, and I pushed myself farther than I knew I could. I would do it again, even if it was challenging.
Is rowing gender specific?
Rowing, unlike most sports, is only recognized by the NCAA for women. When Title IX passed, it required colleges to provide the same equal opportunities, and funding, to women as they do for men. Because of this, many schools choose to balance out large men’s programs with rowing teams. Ohio State is one of these schools that does not have a varsity men’s team equivalent. Rowing is growing nationwide, and scholarship opportunities are readily available for talented female athletes. The women’s national elite team is the dominate crew worldwide in the eight – winning the last three Olympics and every world championship in between in this event, outperforming their male counterparts.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I like reading, playing ultimate Frisbee, and hiking with my dog. You can also catch me on the couch watching Grey’s Anatomy.