Kate Whitaker has dedicated much of the past four years to rowing. Whether it has been training, competing or teaching others, the recent Greenbrier High School graduate has eaten, lived and breathed rowing.
Kate Whitaker is a 2004 graduate of Greenbrier High School who did her senior project on rowing. She even introduced a friend to the sport.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"I just really enjoyed the summer camp and started with the Augusta Rowing Club," she said, recalling the first time she tried her hand at the sport.
As a member of the Augusta Rowing Club's varsity team, 18-year-old Whitaker has served as the stroke of the boat for the past two years, setting the rhythm for the rest of the boat and rowers.
When it came to choosing a senior project, Whitaker decided to develop her passion for the sport into something more. As part of her project, she chose to teach a friend how to row.
Morgan Houmiel said she was amazed at the strength needed for the sport.
"I always knew that she rowed, and I always thought it would be interesting," said Morgan, a 16-year-old rising senior at Greenbrier High. "Kate always interested me with her stories."
But when it came time to learn how to row, Morgan was taken aback.
"It was much harder than I thought," she said. "I was real nervous when I got in the water because I thought I was going to tip the boat. But Kate kept me from being too nervous. She is a great teacher."
Whitaker said many misconceptions about rowing evolve from people not realizing what a total body workout the sport is.
"It's definitely an intense sport," she said, adding that when rowers aren't in the boat synchronizing their teamwork skills, they are putting their muscles through workouts by lifting weights and various other exercises.
When Whitaker isn't training, she's likely competing.
The daughter of Mike and Judy Whitaker of Evans, she participates in eight to 10 events each year, averaging four to five in each of the fall and spring seasons.
"In the fall, we have head races where each boat starts off at different intervals," she said of the timed competition. Spring competitions display more of the skill and strength of the rowers, where the teams rush to cross the finish line first and win the event.
Whitaker's team placed first in the Southeast last year in their spring regatta but was unable to retain the title, finishing third in this year's event.
When Whitaker enters Georgia State University in the fall, she likely will give up rowing for a part-time job to help fund her education. And while she says that she probably won't put as much time into the sport when college starts, she's sure to recall the years she's dedicated to rowing as some of the best of her life.
"It's just a sport I have a passion for, and something I really love," she said.
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