Rowing her way to success

Senior rower paves way for her future team

Elizabeth Truelove

Ignoring the excruciating pain in her legs and pushing against the footplate in her boat, Sophia Clavenna takes the last 10 strokes to finish her second race at Head of the Charles on Oct. 23 in Boston, Mass. After completing her race at the largest regatta in the world, Clavenna collapses out of exhaustion and attempts to regain her breath. In celebration, her boat shares high fives after completing the 4,702 meters of the race.

  “Charles is 100% my favorite regatta,” Clavenna said. “It’s like a celebration of the rowing community and everyone’s hard work.”

  As a member of the Charles quad for the second year in a row, Clavenna said while racing, she felt motivated to pull for the seniors who had rowed with her the year before. To keep a team’s bid in the regatta, their boat must place in the top 50% of their race. This year, the quad placed 13th, the best result since Hockaday began racing a quad at the Charles.  

  “It is really fun to see the legacy continue year after year, especially since I was in the quad last year and we never thought we were going to do so well,” Clavenna said.

  Clavenna began her rowing career freshman year, never imagining she would reach this level of competitiveness.

  “I was never extremely good at one sport in middle school, so I wanted to try something different,” Clavenna said. “My friend said she was going to try out, and I thought ‘We’ll see what happens.’”

  After making the team and excelling throughout her novice year, Clavenna became a vital part of Hockaday Crew, also described as compassionate, strong and a great leader by her teammates and coaches.

  “Sophia is very supportive and caring for others,” teammate Carmen Duque-Diaz said. “She takes charge and makes sure everyone knows what to do, but she’s not bossy.”

Taking the role as co-captain this year, Clavenna said she hopes to continue the supportive culture among her team. She said the welcoming, united community is why those who join the team want to come back each season.

“My biggest accomplishment in rowing is, with the help of previous captains, I’ve helped the team culture grow into what it is today,” Dunque-Diaz said.