Hanna Hoogendam ‘21 Places in Rowing Regatta

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  • Members of the Texas Rowing Center’s varsity team practice rowing on Lady Bird Lake. Photo Courtesy of Hanna Hoogendam ’21

  • Hoogendam and a fellow teammate practice rowing. Photo Courtesy of Hanna Hoogendam ’21

  • Hanna Hoogendam ’21 poses with her team in front of their boats. Photo Courtesy of Hanna Hoogendam ’21

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For over a year, Hanna Hoogendam ‘21 has been competing at rowing regattas across the country. This included her competing at the Head of the Charles Regatta (HOCR) on Oct. 19 to Oct. 20, in spite of having less experience than her competition. However, Hoogendam managed to overcome this gap in experience, and ended up placing sixth with her team.

Her journey began long before she got to the HOCR. Hoogendam spent a year playing on the girls’ basketball team her freshman year. She didn’t enjoy the basketball however, and she began to look at different sports.

“My best friend’s dad runs around the trail downtown a lot and he made us sign up for a [rowing] camp. And we tried it and [I] fell in love [with the sport],” Hoogendam said.

After attending the camp, Hoogendam signed up for the Texas Rowing Center, and eventually secured a position on the girls’ varsity team.

“Rowing is very painful and basketball definitely set me up to deal with it,” Hoogendam said. “It gave me a mindset to push through.”

Hoogendam keeps up an intensive exercise routine. During the rowing season Hoogendam and her team maintain a rigorous schedule. Twice a day, they train at the Texas Rowing Center near Lady Bird Lake, once in the morning and then again in the evening.

“Sometimes we have morning practices and it [would] be pitch black outside. There would just be a reflection of the city on the water and it’s just a neat thing,” Hoogendam said.

During the winter season which spans from December to February, Hoogendam and her team transition to a primarily conditioning based routine. This means less time on the water and more time in the gym. This time is so important for rowers that they sometimes say that “spring races are won in December, January, and February.”

“We have more days on land which [involves] running, rowing machines, and circuits- [essentially] strength conditioning,” Hoogendam said. “Right now it’s winter training so it’s a lot of hard work.”

This hard work paid off for Hoogendam when she made it to nationals during the summer of 2018 and placed first in her group. Afterwards, she continued on to compete at several different competitions across the country, including the Head of the Hooch on the Chattanooga River in Tennessee.

“We go to rowing towns that are very well known for rowing and they have courses made just for these competitions,” Hanna said. “A lot of hotels that we [stay in] have rowing pictures on the walls and stuff.”

Then, during the spring of this year, Hoogendam got the news that she had been one of the four people chosen out of a team of 35 to compete at HOCR. They would be the only team from Texas at the regatta.

“We got to represent Texas, our uniform [was] a Texas flag and our blades had the Texas flag on them so it [was] really cool to represent Texas,” Hoogendam said.

With HOCR being one of the largest rowing competitions in the United States and fierce competition to even qualify, the pressure is intense. Only about 85 teams get in, and many, if not all, have been working together for many years.

“It was kind of unreal to be there at a race that such a short time [of] rowing. Yet our pace felt very strong and we were motivated to do well,” said Hoogendam.

Races are intense as every stroke of the paddle counts. One weak stroke could mean the difference between finishing first or second in a race. Coming out of this race however, Hoogendam’s hard work paid off.

“Right after we got off the water, we didn’t know what place we got yet because the scores [had not been] uploaded. We came up and put our boat away and our coach told us we got sixth place,” Hoogendam said. “We were just so excited and happy because it’s a really big accomplishment. We all think we did the best we could.”

The HOCR is also a great networking opportunity for the rowers who compete at it, since many colleges with rowing teams there.

“We were right on the Harvard campus so we walked around Harvard and a lot of us met with college coaches,” Hoogendam said.“They [had]vendors [that] would come and we could go and buy things.” 

Hoogendam plans to continue rowing in college as a division one athlete, and she has her eye on a couple of universities.

“I’m looking at UT, UCLA, USC, Boston University, [and] University of Washington,” Hoogendam said. “There are a lot of really good opportunities in rowing for colleges and I want to continue rowing to a higher level.”

Hoogendam is also interested in competing beyond college, although she does not have any concrete plans yet. Regardless of what she does in college, Hoogendam has already added many great accomplishments to her rowing resume. She hopes to return to the HOCR in the fall of next year.