Joe Ladd ’19
It’s not often one sees a coxswain as a captain on a rowing team, especially one of an opposite gender, but Abby Hart ’19 has proven that both can happen.
The senior coxswain from Chester, Vermont is entering the 2019 spring season as one of the tri-captains on the men’s squad– a feat that has only been done once before at Trinity. I sat down with Hart to discuss her career in rowing, as well as her position as a captain on the men’s rowing team. When asked about how she got started in the sport of rowing, the Vermont Academy alum responded, “I started rowing my freshman year of high school, and between the excitement of a new sport and my inspiring and enthusiastic coach, I decided I would stick with it. Over my time in high school on a very new team– only about three years old when I joined– I learned a great deal not only about rowing and coxing, but also about creating strong team dynamics without a great deal of context, history or expectations.”
Certainly, history, context, and expectations do not hold a lot of meaning when it comes to Hart’s case here at Trinity. Her teammates agree, too, as the fourth-year coxswain was elected by her own teammates to be a tri-captain this upcoming season. Hart seems to blend the uniqueness of being a coxswain and the heart of a leadership role in a humble, yet riveting way.
She added, “I was extremely humbled and honored to be elected by my teammates to lead this team…as one of two four-year seniors, I certainly have seen many changes to the team and I have been witness to a lot of effective leaders, but also to moments in which areas of leadership could have been improved.” Hart will have ample opportunity to improve and expand on her role as a leader this upcoming season, both on the water and off. On the boat, the coxswain holds arguably the most important role. Hart is in charge of navigating, steering the boat, encouraging the rowers, providing feedback, and is ultimately responsible for the boat’s safety. In other words, it’s a big deal. It requires foresight, leadership, and holds immense responsibility for the safety and success of a boat.
Hart added, “the coxswain themselves is a primary leadership position on any rowing team, so I think several years of coxing has helped me transform these two, usually separate, roles into a single unique one.” In discussing her move from high-school rowing to rowing at the collegiate level, Hart remains humble about her position on the team. “Transitioning to Trinity and its broader legacy was exciting and provided me with a new environment to improve. In my four years on the team I have worked with great coaches and teammates who I’ve been able to learn a lot from,” Hart said. Now under her leadership, the Bantams hope to continue their success in the highly competitive northeast region, and eventually, to the national level. Hart added that she aims to set “a new precedent for what a leadership unit can look like.”
Additionally, her role as a female captain on a men’s team “demonstrates the opportunity rowing provides for women to be leaders on a men’s team,” she added. Hart also credits her teammates for her success, adding that “I have really enjoyed working with the two other tri-captains this year, Paul Swetz ’19 and Jack Reid ’20… I’ve felt like an equal member of this team since day one and being named captain certainly supports this.” The men’s rowing team has a jam-packed schedule this spring, and their first race of the season is at Boston College on March 30, where they will be competing not only against the host team, but also against Bates and Harvard. Senior Abby Hart will surely be there to navigate and lead the Bantams to victory.