Just eight months after first learning to row competitively, Cazenovia native Ellen Burr has been selected to partake in the 2012 USRowing Women’s National Team Freshman Camp.
Burr, who just completed her freshman year at Boston College as a communications major, had no prior training in the sport and had never sat in a racing shell when she was approached by a coach at the college’s orientation in September 2011. She finished the year as one of BC’s top rowers — usually occupying the fourth-seat on the team’s First Varsity Eight boat and boasting the second fastest women’s rowing time for a 2K race in the school’s history.
“I had always been involved in sports in high school, and though I told myself I would go to college solely for academics, I found myself missing athletics. I saw a flyer for the rowing team and thought it sounded interesting … and the rowing coach approached me, initially for my height,” Burr said. “It’s an honor [to be attending the freshman national camp]. I’m really seeing this as an opportunity to get better, because I find that I am a little behind other rowers when it comes to technique. There are some women who have been doing this their whole lives.”
The humble six-foot, 18-year-old was one of 20 athletes across the nation to be asked to attend the freshman national camp, which runs from Friday, June 10 until Friday, June 17 in Seattle, Wash.
Women from illustrious rowing programs such as Yale, Princeton and Cornell were also asked to participate in the camp, which aims to teach technical and physiological basics as well as to expose the athletes to National Team training standards during multiple daily sessions.
While she was sought after by the athletic departments of numerous colleges and universities for her prowess in field hockey, basketball and track, Burr decided to attend BC and concentrate on her studies. Upon joining the women’s rowing program, she and her teammates won numerous competitions, including the Green Monster, Jesuit Invitational, Irving-Christensen Cup and the Knecht Cup, among others.
Burr said regularly training on the Charles River with other BC rowers gives the team the competitive edge of a home-filed advantage during larger, well-known regattas like the Head of the Charles.
Following her freshman season at BC, Burr was given the “Walk-on of the Year” award, and was named to the Atlantic Coast Conference 2012 All-ACC team.
Her time of 7:08 for rowing a 2K race on an ergometer this past March is the freshman record at BC, and the second-fastest women’s time overall.
Although Burr said she has much more to learn about the sport and needs a great deal more experience, she uses the thought of someday rowing with the USRowing Under 23 National Team as incentive. “It’s definitely a goal, but I’m taking it step-by-step,” she said. “It is motivating to … see the possibilities of where this sport can take athletes.”
As a member of the Cazenovia High School Class of 2011, Burr was a standout athlete, helping to lead the varsity girls basketball team to three Section III Championships and the state final four in 2011; the varsity girls track and field team to the 2011 state competition – where her team placed sixth in the 4×400 relay; and the varsity field hockey team to three Section III Championships and its first-ever New York State Championship her senior year.
Aside from athletics, Burr was an integral member of the high school’s music department, participating in the orchestra, string ensemble, women’s choir and chamber choir. She coached a CYAA basketball team, was a member of Project CAFÉ, the National Honor Society, Tri-M Music Honor Society, the high school drama club and student council – where she served as president her senior year. In addition, she graduated as an AP Scholar with Distinction.
She said she has recently considered joining the Cazenovia Rowing Club, but admittedly hasn’t been able to find the time between her studies, training and reprising her role as a counselor at Lourdes Camp in Skaneateles upon her return from the USRowing freshman camp. “But, there’s always next year,” she said.
For more information on Burr’s athletic career with the BC Eagles, visit bc.edu. To learn more about the competitive sport of rowing at a national level, visit usrowing.org — and at the local level, visit cazrow.org.
Pierce Smith is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at 434-8889 ext. 338 or firstname.lastname@example.org.