After graduating from Stanford in June with a degree in political science, Crystal Lake’s Chase Shepley wasn’t ready for her rowing career to end.
Instead of walking on stage with her teammates and friends, Shepley spent the past six weeks training with the USRowing Under-23 program at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Shepley’s hard work paid off as she earned a spot on Team USA for the second straight year and will compete in the 2019 World Rowing Under 23 Championships in Sarasota, Florida, which begin Wednesday and go through Sunday. Last year’s event was held in Poznan, Poland.
Shepley will compete on the U.S. Women’s Four team, with Teal Cohen (University of Washington), Meredith Koenigsfeld (University of Iowa) and Kaitlyn Kynast (Stanford).
“In an ideal world, I’d love to go out and win a medal for the U.S.,” the Crystal Lake Central graduate said. “That’s been a dream of mine for a long time, and I think we are capable of it.
“Outside of that, I just want to throw down one last time on the race course with the awesome women I’ve trained with all summer and have something that I’m really proud of and can walk away with.”
Training this summer was a little more intense, Shepley said.
“They wanted us to have a very strong fitness base this year,” Shepley said. “We ramped up the intensity a little bit. We’d do double days and sometimes triple days. You go home for four hours, you come back and do more.
“Everybody is there because they want to be there and commit their time and emotional energy to something they are passionate about. That creates a real exciting environment as an athlete.”
Team USA will have 22 crews competing at the five-day event with athletes from 25 states, plus the District of Columbia and Switzerland. Team USA captured eight medals at last year’s rowing championships, including five gold.
The U.S. Women’s Four team finished fourth in the B-Final last summer, and Shepley and her teammates are hoping for a better result in what likely will be her last run of highly competitive races.
Next year, Shepley will go to University College London and study for a master’s degree in public policy. She still will race at UCL, but rowing there is not as competitive compared with a four-year university.
That’s what makes this week so special to Shepley, who helped Stanford finish fourth at the NCAA Women’s Rowing Championships to end her collegiate rowing career.
“It’s exciting to not have to walk away from the sport cold turkey and get a chance to compete at an elite level with amazing athletes,” Shepley said. “When you’re doing it at a high level and you really love it, it’s hard to walk away.
“It’s why we do it. We love to compete, and we love to race.”