Mollie Major '14 is wrapping up her second season with Hamilton women's crew after she transferred to the College before her sophomore year. Mollie is a regular rower for the junior varsity eights and was a member of the 2013 NESCAC Spring All-Academic Team. She will help lead Hamilton into a home regatta against St. Lawrence University on Saturday, April 19. Racing is scheduled to start at 10 a.m.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about where you grew up?
A. I was born and raised in Williamstown, a small, rural town in Western Massachusetts. Tucked in the corner bordering Vermont and New York, Williamstown is often known as the home to Williams College. I attended Mt. Greylock Regional High School with about 600 students from grades seven through 12.

Q. Did you participate in any other sports competitively before college?
A. I played lacrosse from fifth grade through high school and then my freshman year at Smith College before I transferred to Hamilton. I also played basketball for a few years at Mt. Greylock but lacrosse was my main focus, especially as the competition grew to be more demanding. Playing collegiate lacrosse was a big learning experience and a great way to culminate my time playing competitively in the sport!

Q. How did you get interested in rowing?
A. I had always thought rowing was unique to any field or team sport I had participated in. After transferring my sophomore year and knowing my lacrosse career was finished due to injury, it was hard to see fellow classmates go to practice every day at 4 p.m.! I knew a few people on both the men's and women's teams who had positive experiences on the team. The summer before junior year I contacted the crew coaches and expressed my interest in walking on to the team. I acknowledged that I knew a junior walk-on to a collegiate varsity sport was unconventional. I started rowing that fall and it has been a great two years since then!

Q. What factored into your decision to transfer to Hamilton College?
A. Hamilton has many of the same characteristics as Smith. I know what a tight-knit community can provide. Having a friendly, supportive atmosphere is beneficial not only for academic success, but is a great place for students to grow and thrive as people!

Q. How would you describe this spring season so far?
A. Anyone that knows upstate New York knows that the weather doesn't always deal you the best hand. I would say the season has been driven by determination thus far. We had a great leg of training when we started up in February and we carried that down to Florida for spring training. Coming back to a deeply frozen Erie Canal was not what we hoped for, but we went back to indoor training and we've only increased our fitness and strength as a team since then.

Q. On April 23 Hamilton hosts Union College for the Gilman Plate and Cup. What does the event mean for you and your teammates?
A. Having lost a lot of water time, I can speak for many in saying that we are ready and raring to get out on our home course and see how we stack up against Union. We have put in a lot of work this season and race day is always an anticipated event. It is also nice to be at home, where many of our friends and families can come out to cheer us on. It should be a fun day if the weather holds up (we wouldn't be surprised by anything at this point!).

Q. The crew programs spent nearly two weeks in Florida during spring break. How does that trip benefit your program?
A. The annual Tampa trip is a highlight of everyone's spring season. After being indoors on the erg machines for a snowy few weeks, the Florida sunshine is very warmly welcomed. We get in crazy amounts of water time, which is awesome for programs like Hamilton's, especially in years like this when we have to wait for the canal to thaw before we can be on the water again. The trip is also a great way for everyone to get to know each other and come together as a cohesive team. We come back a lot stronger both in and out of the boat.

Q. Do you have a place to row that you prefer over all others? Where is it?
A. I am probably not alone in loving our time on the channel in downtown Tampa, rowing in the sunshine next to dolphins and even the occasional cruise ship. That being said, our home course on the Erie Canal in Rome feels like home. While it can be a long, grueling stretch to come down the nearly 7K race course, it is comforting to know exactly where you are based on a specific fallen tree or patches of grass we can recognize along the way. It's fun to know a place inside and out like that.

Q. What has been your fondest Hamilton women's crew moment thus far?
A. It's hard to say, but I might choose the New York State Championship regatta last spring. My boat had the last race of the day for Hamilton and we came away with the bronze medal! While the girls in the boat and I were so excited with how we performed in the race, we were met with even more excitement when we came back on land. It has been a great experience to go to regattas and have such an enthusiastic crowd backing you 110 percent. Every school we compete against has supportive teammates, but I have found that Hamilton crew seems to stand apart from the rest. Not every team can provide 50-plus cheering fans waiting for you to row back to the docks. It's an unparalleled feeling.

Q. As a member of the 2013 NESCAC Spring All-Academic Team, how do you balance athletics and academics?
A. For me, having an extra-curricular activity improves my time management skills. I know how much time I have every day to accomplish what I need to do and the amount of time I have to relax and hang out. For crew, we go away several weekends during the year, especially during the spring. Because we're traveling so much, I need to stay on top of my work during the week as best I can. That is much easier said than done sometimes, as I'm sure many would agree!

Q. Do you have a favorite professor or a favorite class from your time here at Hamilton?
A. I'm an education minor and I have had some great classes with Professor Mason, who is head of the department. For the last two semesters my education classes have given me the opportunity to have a placement in a first grade classroom over at Westmoreland Elementary School. My host teacher, Sue Hecklau, has warmly welcomed me into her classroom and it's been amazing.

Q. What are your plans after graduation?
A. I just accepted a job as a kindergarten/third grade Teaching Fellow at a charter school in Denver, Colorado!

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