Hartford, Conn. - Four years ago, Erin Gannon (Lincoln, R.I.) took a leap of faith when she decided to pick up a sport she had never tried before. Little did she know, she was setting herself up for a remarkable career as a student-athlete at Trinity. As a recently graduated senior, Erin navigated her way to becoming an essential part of the women's crew team’s first varsity eight boat, and equally distinguished herself in the classroom.
Coming in as a freshman, soccer had always been Erin’s dominant sport. But when a friend suggested she give rowing a try, she took the jump and went for it. She recalls learning the ins and outs of erging indoors over the first three weeks of her rookie season, and not falling in love with the experience immediately. However, once the team finally got out onto the water, everything changed. “Being on water and actually getting to practice racing was awesome," Gannon recalls. "Even though I still didn’t know the sport, I clicked with the team right away and that’s what kept me in it."
At just 5 feet tall, Erin doesn’t have a traditional rower’s build. Rowing utilizes every major muscle group and puts a great emphasis on leg strength. With this being said, the typical rower is very tall, enabling them to cover more ground and maximize the power of each stroke. Being almost an entire foot shorter than most of her teammates, Erin had to adapt her rowing style and technique to keep with the rhythm of everyone else in the boat. “At first it was difficult for me to understand that someone could be in perfect rowing shape, and be fast on the erg, but not have the technical part down. It was hard to get a hang of the rhythm in the boat because my legs are shorter, and everyone’s timing must be perfectly in sync to be successful,” she explained. The team has coined Erin’s style in the boat as “extreme rowing,” given that she had to morph her own natural stroke and body movement, and often put in extra effort to get up to speed, in order to match that of everyone else’s.
Combating her size has been the greatest challenge of Erin’s rowing career, but year by year, she was able to overcome it. Head Women's Rowing Coach Heather Barney (3rd season) believes that Erin embodies the four year upward trajectory she hopes everyone who comes through the program to have. Erin went from walking onto the team as a freshman and not being boated, to third varsity as a sophomore, second varsity as a junior, and finally the bow seat of the varsity eight as a senior.
There are two erg tests each member of the team must complete each year, and the goal of these tests is to do better and improve the older you get. Erin beat her personal record her senior year on both of these tests, something that no senior had accomplished during the two previous seasons. The moment Erin beat her PR was one that Coach Barney feels epitomizes her progression and growth. “Our team emphasizes what we call the ‘Broomstick Doctrine’ which encourages our rowers to leave things better than they found it. She and the rest of her class had a vision to make the program better, and they most definitely have raised the bar for the younger classes,” Coach Barney explained.
Gannon not only developed as a rower over the past four years, but also as a leader. She served as her team’s co-captain this year, and according to Coach Barney, she led by example and had the power to steer her teammates in the right direction. “She values relationships and has a great awareness of her teammates. She can also put her head down and get work done when it needs to get done.” Rowing is in season in both during the fall and the spring semesters, so keeping up with high level training during the winter is essential. As captain, Erin’s goal was to motivate her teammates to put the work in during these winter months to come back ready for the spring and raise the standard of work ethic throughout the team.