By Zoe Brown
Lizzy Youngling, a 2011 Staples graduate and 2013 U.S. National Rowing Team member, feels that rowing has gotten short shrift from the media.
“It has the potential to become as popular as tennis or soccer; it just needs to get more fans,” she says.
Unfortunately, she says, it remains mostly hidden from coverage like an oar beneath the sparkling blue water.
Changing that perception has made her even more determined to train harder as she and rowing partner Leigh Archer prepare to compete against teams from about 70 countries in the Under23 World Championships to take place July 23 through 28 in Linz Ottensheim, Austria.
Youngling, a student-athlete at the University of Virginia, has been training in the double sculls in Princeton, N.J. this summer at the U.S. National Team camp.
“Many people go into the sport thinking they can get by doing the bare minimum amount of work, but to be a really great rower it takes lots of time and patience,” she said. “Rowing can take you to places you’ve never imagined and helps structure your life.”
But to get to Austria, the pair must raise $12,000, so they are seeking donors at http://natrowing.donorpages.com/Under23NationalTeam2013/LizzyYoungling/.
Youngling began rowing in the summer of 2007 at Saugatuck Rowing Club. She later earned a spot on the Junior National team in 2010 and attended the World Championships in Prague, Czech Republic and again in 2011 in London, England.
“Basically when you’re training for worlds, your life is eating, sleeping, and rowing, with a little Netflix in between,” she said.
Youngling adds that, “all the time and effort is worth it in the end when you have that gold medal around your neck.”
Winning is not Youngling’s favorite part about rowing, though. She feels that the friendships she makes and the people she meets are the best part.
“Don’t get me wrong, winning races if great, but your teammates become your family since you spend so much time together,” she said.
Youngling also credits rowing with teaching her life lessons.
“Rowing has definitely shaped the way I look at life,” she said. “You always have to give 100 percent during practice and races, and that has converted over to other aspects of my life.”
“It has taught me that hard work and dedication will always trump others in the end.”
Youngling is the granddaughter of Theodore W. Youngling, a well-known Westporter who served on the Board of Education, the Representative Town Meeting, and the Parks and Recreation Commission. He also coached local football after earlier serving as an assistant football coach at Oklahoma and Duke. He died in 2006 at 81.