By Kristin Schultz
Twin sisters and Niskayuna rowers Hannah and Emily Meade are in sync on and off the water, and next fall they’ll head to Rutgers University to row and study — together, of course.
The pair started rowing for Niskayuna when they were in seventh grade and never looked back. They have rowed together as part of an eight-man boat as well as in a quad, and they have been successful on a national level, all while maintaining excellent grades.
“We’ve had the support of our coaches,” Hannah said. “They make sure our work is done and that we know that we’re students first.”
They have also encouraged one another as college choices and chores loomed. The Meade family has a history of attending Big 10 schools. Their mother attended Michigan State University and their older sibling is currently also a Spartan.
“It’s meaningful for us to carry on the family legacy,” Hannah said.
Rowing is also part of the family heritage as both of their parents picked up oars, but it was their sisterhood that they say contributed to their success. Both Hannah and Emily felt that they were naturally in sync on the water — whether in a double or as a bow pair in the eight-man boat — and had an advantage over the rest of their competitors.
If they were rowing together on the water, it was their differences that propelled them to Rutgers.
“Without her, I would not have gotten this far,” Hannah said. “This whole journey has been a partnership.”
Emily kept Hannah motivated to work out and keep up her fitness routine while Hannah made sure that Emily responded to recruiting emails and coach’s phone calls.
“It’s a yin [and] yang thing,” Emily said.
They were even there for each other during this November’s NCAA signing ceremony at Niskayuna High School. As 14 students sat under the glare of the stage lights and signed letters of intent to attend and play sports at a variety of Division I schools, Emily and Hannah were among them, but Hannah’s pen didn’t work. So after Emily signed, she gave her pen to her sister, who then signed her name.
“We depend on each other,” Hannah said.
They are still trying to decide if they will be roommates at Rutgers or will room with other rowers.
Both Hannah and Emily are as eager to credit their individual success not only to each other, but to their coaches, parents and teammates.
Hannah said, “[Coach] Stacey Apfelbaum has been so supportive and we couldn’t have won the triple crown without her.”
The rowing triple crown is made up of two Northeastern regattas and the state competition.
“If anyone believed in us, it was our parents,” Emily said. “They wouldn’t let us quit on our dream.”