Alaina Kemp left behind more than just high school friends when she went to Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Fla., on Aug. 12. The 18-year-old Lakeside High School graduate also left behind her twin sister, Vanessa, who has been a major source of her competitive strength.
Alaina Kemp of Martinez is in the Athlete Spotlight.
Photo by Valerie Rowell
"Our coach expected the same thing from both of us," said Alaina, who has signed a letter of intent to row at Jacksonville. "She had me beat at one time, but I caught up with her."
The sisters have been rowing for just more than three years after seeing a flier announcing membership to the Augusta Junior Rowers at the Boathouse on Riverfront Road in Augusta one day. They thought it would be fun and signed up for the team.
"It was interesting to see how the twins gained strength as they competed against each other," said Peter Claus, the sisters' former varsity women's coach for the Augusta Junior Rowers. "They brought a good team spirit to the team."
Alaina, who is eager to gain her own identity and independence, says she wanted to go to college where she could row.
"I really wanted to go to school in Florida," said Alaina, the daughter of Tom and Wanda Kemp, of Evans. "I knew if I didn't row, I'd go crazy."
Alaina first set her sights on the University of Central Florida in Orlando, but after traveling to Jacksonville University in February, meeting with their rowing coach and touring the campus, she knew she had found a home.
"I just loved the school," she said, adding that Vanessa will stay in Augusta with hopes of transferring to Clemson University next year.
As for rowing, Alaina is glad she found a school where she can continue the sport. She is one of three girls whom Dolphins Head Coach Jim Mitchell signed to the women's squad for the 2005-06 season.
"The teamwork and the team bond is awesome," said Alaina, who has volunteered at Georgia's Camp Big Heart for the past five summers.
Her work with the mentally and physically disabled have inspired her to pursue a career in nursing.
Claus said the departure of the Kemp sisters from the women's varsity team will, in a way, be sad.
"The team is definitely going to be more quiet," he said. "They brought a lot of enthusiasm and spirit to the team."
As for Alaina's future in the sport, Claus is certain she'll succeed.
"If she's going to continue the way she has been, she's going to do well," he said. "It's going to be challenging, but she has always excelled at what she put her mind to."
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