An 18-year-old Stillwater native will head to the Netherlands this month to represent the United States at the World Rowing Championships in Rotterdam, Holland.
Emma Hopkins will wear the red, white and blue as part of a two-woman team racing internationally in the under (age) 23 lightweight division sponsored by the National Rowing Foundation. She leaves Aug. 18, and is seeking the public's support.
“I still can’t believe that what I have been dreaming about for years and years is coming together before my eyes,” Emma said. “After years of staring at posters of the national team before drifting to sleep, I will actually be joining some of the best athletes in the world on the U.S. national team.”
The daughter of Matthew and Tammy Hopkins of 672 Hudson Ave., Emma will be teaming with Olivia Farrar, a high school senior from Pittsford, NY. The young women are coached by Alida Durrant of the ARION (Advanced Rowing Initiative of the Northeast) program as well as varsity and freshman girls from Saratoga Rowing Association.
Emma graduated this past June from Augustine Classical Academy, a K-12 alternative Christian school located in Mechanicville. Founded in 2009, the school has just over 60 students and offers five sports crew, skiing, tennis, fencing and rock climbing.
Emma has rowed for several teams over the six years she has been competing in the sport including the Mohawk Homeschool Rowing Association, Augustine Classical Academy, and the Saratoga Rowing Association. She will be attending Princeton University in the fall and will be representing the Tigers as a member of the lightweight women's rowing team.
The second oldest of nine children, Emma first rowed at age 7 or 8 in a mixed, coxed 4x with her dad, grandmother, older sister, and younger brother (coxswain).
Emma and Olivia took their first strokes together only a month before the under 23 trials where they cruised to victory on Mercer Lake in New Jersey in July.
Both of them fostered national team dreams for quite a while, and though relatively young (incoming high school senior and college freshman) they were itching at the end of the spring to see how far from those goals would take them.
“Thankfully, our coaches were able to get us connected, though neither of us knew how or if this elaborate scheme would work itself out,” Emma said. “Looking back, we are both absolutely thrilled with what we have accomplished so far this summer.”
With both girls living at home, hours apart, the “rowing together” part of the plan presented (and still does) an obvious challenge. Accordingly, they have done the majority of their training on their own, texting daily updates of their workouts back and forth to help them stay accountable. Emma splits her training time between the Hudson River in Mechanicville and Fish Creek in Saratoga Springs.
When together, the teammates have the extra challenge of having to put their individuality aside, learning to adapt their very different styles into one, somewhat uniform stroke.
“Though it is unfortunate that we train together so infrequently, we are both fiercely competitive individuals,” Emma explained. “This competitive nature has allowed us to find speed in the face of obstacles, such the distance that separates us.”
That was never more evident than at the July trials where they had the race of their young lives, pulling ahead of their nearest competitor and powering to an 8-second lead by the finish (video link above).
To two continue to search for public donations to help them finance their trip aboard, which includes some $11,000 in expenses to pay for flights, food, lodging, equipment rental and transportation while in the Netherlands. Thus far they have raised more than $8,000 but the trip is just weeks away.
If you would like to be part of their journey, click here to see how you can help out.