Crystal Lake’s Chase Shepley didn’t want to sugarcoat how tough the last six weeks of training were with the U.S. Rowing’s under-23 program in Princeton, N.J.
“It’s an amazing group of girls who are the most talented rowers from schools across the country,” said Shepley, a Crystal Lake Central graduate. “Everybody is working hard and taking it really seriously. It’s really exciting as a competitor because you want to be your best every day, too.
“You have to be. You don’t want to make one wrong step and get cut. The process was hard.”
Shepley’s commitment paid off as the Stanford University senior earned a spot on Team USA, which will compete in the 2018 World Rowing
Under 23 Championships this week in Poznan, Poland.
“It was mentally grueling, emotionally draining and physically exhausting,” Shepley said. “But it’s very rewarding that this is what I get at the end of it.”
In May, Shepley helped Stanford take fourth at the NCAA Women’s Rowing Championships. Starting Thursday, she’ll work with some of her college competitors as part of the U.S. Women’s Four team. Shepley will team up with Meghan Gutknecht (University of Michigan), Niamh Martin (University of Wisconsin) and Teresa Rokos (Harvard University).
“In this format, you’re kind of thrown into a boat with different girls,” Shepley said. “I’m rowing with two girls from the Big Ten and one from (the) Ivy (League). We all have different styles, but everyone just really wants to attack it.”
The U.S. will have 22 crews competing in the five-day event with athletes from 20 states, plus the District of Columbia.
The U.S. won five medals in last year’s championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, and although Shepley would like to come back to the states with a medal, she’s trying to remain focused on the racing.
“I want to go out and lay down a great race every day,” Shepley said. “Our driving goal needs to be getting better every race because we’ve had such little experience together.
“I would love to make it in the grand final – I’d love to have a chance at a medal. I think those are really common goals a lot of people would say, but I want to go out and improve each time we step foot on a course.”