For Nisky girls’ rowing team, winning is just a bonus

Team photoThe Girls Junior 8+ Team poses near the boathouse with their first-place plaque. Photo by Rebecca Isenhart


Gazette Reporter

NISKAYUNA–As the high school rowing season draws to a close, Niskayuna team members have a lot to be proud of. The students have each put in more than 180 of hours of practice during the 12-week season and rowed thousands of meters.

“They’re very lucky to have the equipment they have, and a very dedicated group of rowers and coaches over the years,” said coach Sabrina Skotarczak. She remarked that her teams always manage to strike an excellent balance of hard work and fun.

This year’s race results certainly reflected Niskayuna rowers’ intensive training efforts. The Girls Junior 8+ Team finished second in the Stotesbury Cup Regatta and won the Scholastic Rowing Association of America (SRAA) Nationals. In addition, the Boys JV4 finished in third place at both competitions.

Team photo

The Girls Junior 8+ Team poses near the boathouse with their first-place plaque. Photo by Rebecca Isenhart

The recent wins were a bonus prize for the Girls Junior 8+ Team, whose members said they value so many aspects of their sport that coming in first hardly matters.

After weathering a chilly March that forced them indoors nearly a month longer than they intended, the team members weren’t expecting to perform as well as they did. Skotarczak said they seemed to be in shock when the results were announced.


The winning rowers lower their boat into a sling to clean it after a successful season. Photo by Rebecca Isenhart

“We haven’t always won everything, but our friendship and bonds were always strong,” Rower Greta O’Hara said.

Teammate Rachel Padula said the greatest single hurdle–and reward–was training to operate as a complete team.

“All eight of you have to be together,” she said. “If one person’s off, you’re done.”

Gabby Lambeth, another Girls Junior 8+ teammate, said the best part of finishing any race was the excitement on her parents’ faces. “It’s really rewarding because they put so much into the program,” she said.

Indeed, Niskayuna parents invest a lot into their students’ rowing endeavors. The team traveled to New Jersey and Pennsylvania this season, and the spring rowing fee cost varsity rowers’ parents in the neighborhood of $500, including some travel.

O’Hara agreed that her parents’ support meant a great deal to her.

“It gives us a reason to keep rowing,” she said.

Coach Skotarczak hopes they’ll keep rowing for a long time. “It’s a lifelong sport, so 20 years from now they could still be rowing or coaching,” she said.

Skotarczak is proof it’s possible. “I rowed for Niskayuna and here I am coaching,” the 1996 alumni said proudly.

About the Author

Rebecca Isenhart
Rebecca Isenhart is the reporter/writer for Your Niskayuna, presented by the Daily Gazette of Schenectady.