Story by Lauren Schlegel-Boraas
Over the summer, Drake University welcomed a new face to its rowing program in assistant coach Katie Thurstin.
“She is really passionate,” said sophomore rower Brianna Varela of her new coach.
Thurstin drove 12 straight hours from Denver, Colo., to start her job at Drake.
Originally from Eagan, Minn., Thurstin began rowing in high school and has continued for the past 12 years.
She attended the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities where she also rowed for two seasons. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in global studies and a minor in Spanish, she served as a rowing instructor for three years.
Thurstin served as the head coach of Denver University’s Club Rowing Team where she helped establish the school’s first rowing club.
In his 21st year as Drake’s head coach, Charlie DiSilvestro described why he hired Thurstin.
“We hired Katie because of her experience of coaching, her vision of balance between athletics and academics, her maturity level and her ability to relate to freshmen,” DiSilvestro said. “We want this to be a stepping stone for her and get to the next level.”
A rower once told Thurstin that rowing is like flying.
It is a sport in which groups of athletes race against each other in boats in large bodies of water.
As one of the oldest Olympic sports, the crew team at Drake uses a method called sweep-oar rowing. Each rower holds one oar, and each boat holds two, four or eight rowers.
“There is nothing to compare to the power of eight,” Thurstin said.
Responsibilities of an assistant coach include recruiting, teaching students how to row, travel organization, logistics and fundraising.
Thurstin plans to recruiting new rowers by email and flyers.
Sophomore rower Ashley Beall, a member of the novice team last year, stressed the importance of a coach’s availablitiy.
“It’s important to have somebody who is easy to talk to and is always there for you,” Beall said.
Thurstin’s goals include winning the conference championship, building a strong novice crew and encouraging fun and fitness.
She said she wants them to leave with more than a major, she wants them to leave with a legacy.
With a new, passionate coach, Beall is looking forward to the coming season.
“We are hungry to get back on top,” Beall said.