|6 Nov 2023
St Margaret’s rowing coach Laura Manly (’19), who has just completed her fourth-year coaching and her ninth season at the St Margaret’s Rowing Shed, recently shared her reflections on the 2023 season and her deep connection to the St Margaret’s rowing program.
Laura, who joined the rowing program in 2015 after hearing how much fun the rowing girls were having, said she “fell in love with the sport and the community instantly”.
Describing her progression within the program, she explained, "I coxed the quads in Years 8, 9 and 10 and then gave rowing a try in Year 11, rowing in the open senior four.
“I went back to coxing in Year 12 and coxed the open third VIII and placed first at Head of River. This was a moment that I felt all the sacrifices I made through my senior year and the decision to go back to coxing for the team’s sake, were rewarded and acknowledged by my coaches and my peers, Laura said.
After graduation, Laura was asked to return to St Margaret’s as a rowing coach, which she gladly accepted to give back to the program which gave her so much as a student.
Recalling the highlights of the recent season, she shared, “This season, like many others that I have been involved in at St Margaret’s, was a success. We came away with the percentage cup, 2nd in the Open First VIII and 1st in the Open Second VIII.
“Our junior rowers also had great success, and whilst not every boat placed, there were a lot of happy, smiley faces from the girls as they gave everything they had.
"A personal highlight was watching my younger sister win her race in the Open Second VIII. Winning a race in the eights is such an elating experience, and I am so happy that she has had the chance to experience what I did as a rower.
“Another highlight was watching my Year 9 first quad, which I coached with another Old Girl Margot Lisle (’20), come down the course on Head of River. Whilet they didn’t place, it was their best race of the season, and for that, Margot and I were so incredibly proud.”
Speaking about the qualities essential for success in the rowing program, Laura stressed, "For any student to be involved in the rowing program, they must have determination and a team mentality. Rowing is not a sport where one's individual talent alone wins the race or wins the aggregate cup."
“Each person in each boat, no matter if it’s the year eight 15th quad or the First VIII, is valued and relied upon during the season.
“Rowing is also an incredibly hard sport, both physically and mentally, and during the tough trainings on a cold winters morning, determination is what will see a rower through to the end.”.
Looking ahead, Laura said she plans to coach for one more season, where she will celebrate 10 years of involvement in St Margaret’s rowing and see her sister through to her final year in the program.
"My goals and aspirations for the shed next year would be to see a clean sweep from our senior division.
“The depth and talent of the senior years is incredible to witness, and I truly believe they can achieve a clean sweep and bring home the aggregate cup.
“I will always continue to support the St Margaret’s rowing program as it has given me so much as student and as a coach. I wish for each student that comes through this program to experience the amazing shed culture that is STM rowing,” Laura said.
By Georgia Mitchell
Manager – Development and Community
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