Athlete of the Issue: Zoe Colloredo-Mansfeld ’21

Courtesy+of+Andrej+Klema+%2721

Courtesy of Andrej Klema ’21

As captain of Girl’s crew, Zoe stands out not only as one of the strongest contributors to her boat in power and strength but also as a leader for the new, emerging rowers on the team. In a year of uncertainty, Zoe has managed to navigate the unfamiliarities of a new crew season and lead the team to a notable victory over St. Marks. 

 

When did you start rowing?

I started rowing my third form year. Before Groton, I had never been in a crew shell before. 

 

What do you enjoy about rowing?

There’s a lot I love about rowing. I love the feeling of getting into a boat with four people I trust fully, knowing that for the full length of our practice or race we are all going to pull as hard as we can and we’re going to do it together. I love the unity and synchrony of the sport and finding that moment when the world drifts away and you get lost in the rhythm of the boat. When I go down to the Nashua, I leave all the stress and concerns of the circle behind and enter a new world where all that matters are the girls ahead and behind you. 

I also love the dynamic of our team here. We’re serious when we row but between pieces and when we get off the water we get up to all sorts of shenanigans. For me, the highlight of every spring term has been the time I spend with this team, from the Nashua to the endless team dinners. 

 

What is your fondest Groton rowing moment?

Every normal season ends with the New England Interscholastic Regatta (NEIRAs) where we compete against all the other teams in New England. In my fourth form year, our boat had been seeded unfairly so in the morning heats we were up against 3 strong teams including the team whose coach was responsible for the seeding. We knew it wouldn’t be easy to qualify for finals but we also knew that we were fast enough.  We declared the race our “Revenge Row.” It was one of our best races all season and by the end of an exhausting 1500m, we had open water on all but one of our competitors, qualifying for the finals. 

Coming off the water knowing I had done my best not just for myself but the graduating seniors and that we had proved the seeding wrong was one of the best feelings. While we ultimately came in fourth overall in New England, losing out in a tough final race, the Revenge Row made the day feel successful. 

 

Who has pushed you and influences you the most? 

My teammates push me the most. When I started in third form, all the upperclassmen on the team were so intimidating. They were experienced and intense and strong and worked so hard every minute of practice. With time, as I began to row in boats with them, the fear I felt turned into motivation. 

Seeing people like Nailah Pierce ’18 and Bridget Cornell ’19 push themselves so hard, past the point I thought I could go, forced me to work harder. I wanted to row hard for them and was terrified of holding the boat back. If they could enter the “hurt locker,” then so could I. Of course, I was also pushed by all the coxswains I’ve had, Annabel Kocks ’20, Lily Cratsley ’19, and Maya Luthi ’23. I am lost without someone (kindly) yelling that I can pull harder, keep going for longer, and give more. 

 

What have you learned from rowing? 

Crew is a hard sport. You have to be willing to push yourself until it hurts and then keep going. This sport has shown me the extent of my own strength and taught me that however hard I think I’m working, I can always work just a little bit harder. I can always take five more strokes, keep going for twenty more seconds, or push with my legs a tiny bit more.

It can also be very stressful and so I’ve had to learn ways to manage the adrenaline and settle my mind ahead of a difficult task. Knowing what I’ve worked through on the water gives me more confidence. Anytime I’m doing something difficult and I want to stop, I switch into my crew brain. 

I tell myself that it may hurt or seem impossible to get through it, but that everything ends eventually– knowing you’ve done your best is the greatest feeling you can ask for.