John Jay graduate Carly Legenzowski is proof positive that you don’t need to compete in a mainstream sport to receive an opportunity to do what you love in college.
The June graduate will be rowing competitively at the University of Texas at Austin.
“We ran into UT Austin Rowing when I was competing at the San Diego Crew Class in the spring of my junior year,” Legenzowski said. “The team was impressive. That was the first time Texas crossed my mind. I am a men’s team coxswain, so I hadn’t considered looking at women’s teams.”
She added, “At Nationals in Sarasota that June, they happened to be sitting in our team tent for shade. I met with them after the race and it was really a good fit.”
Legenzowski, who began her rowing career as a sixth-grader at the New Canaan Crew/Maritime Rowing Center in Norwalk, Connecticut, was also interested in Duke University, Brown University and Columbia University. However, Texas won out.
Legenzowski is the coxswain in her boat.
“I sit in the back or front of the boat and facilitate practice and races,” she explained. “I relay the message of the coach while steering, motivating, executing the race plan and keeping the crew safe.”
Rowing may be the ultimate team sport. While coaches in other team sports emphasize that everyone must pull together, rowing requires that or else the effort will go for naught.
“Rowing is a team sport, so everyone in the boat has a very important role,” Legenzowski said. “In an eight, there is the stern pair who communicate with the coxswain while setting the pace for the rest of the boat. The middle four are usually called the ‘powerhouse’ of the boat, meaning they contribute the most power to move the boat making it faster. The bow pair usually have the most finesse in the boat. They have to follow the rest of the boat as well as making sure the boat is staying as set as possible.”
She added, “The best boats are the ones with a really good team dynamic. The rowers have to trust that the person behind them has their back and that the coxswain will give them the best line possible.”
Legenzowski’s success has not come without hard work.
“I practice six days a week, three hours a day, all yearlong. I spent my senior year in Greenwich with Greenwich Crew,” she said.
This drive has led her to competitions throughout the country, including San Diego and Sacramento in California, Ohio, Florida, New Jersey, upstate New York and Massachusetts.
Over the years, Legenzowski has recorded her races and sent them to coaches, who also have the opportunity to review race results and times.
That led to a chance to row in college, an opportunity that was not on her mind when she started.
Legenzowski will attend UT Austin’s College of Natural Sciences. “I am exploring different majors,” she said.