Imagine landing an NCAA Division-I football scholarship without ever once donning a helmet or a pair of shoulder pads. Or perhaps joining a big-time collegiate basketball program without having ever hoisted a single shot from a regulation free throw line.
That essentially is the boat Rose Filer suddenly finds herself in. Despite having never once transferred the weight room rowing-machine workouts she tears through so effortlessly to any endeavor on the water, the Nederland teenager nonetheless will be joining the crew program next year at the University of Washington.
Filer, a home-schooled student, will join the Huskies’ program, considered one of the top crew programs in the nation, despite never actually participating in a rowing race in open water. Washington, which currently boasts the second-ranked rowing squad in the nation, became interested in Filer after she sent the Huskies’ coaching staff a number of impressive times she compiled in dry-land competitions on rowing machines.
Filer said she has been awarded just a little scholarship money but will enjoy an opportunity to prove herself, and perhaps eventually earn more scholarship funds, as a walk-on.
“A lot of rowers are actually able to walk-on in college because it’s not that popular of a sport,” Filer said. “When I started looking into Washington I learned that about half the team started off as walk-ons. I sent my information to probably about six (schools) but I was mainly focused on Washington.”
A veteran member of the Eldora Mountain Ski and Snowboard Club, Filer honed her interest in rowing not due to some family vacation near the beach, but from the head-turning performances she put in on rowing machines during her workouts.
Inspired by those efforts, some of Filer’s coaches at Eldora encouraged her to up the ante by entering her name in several indoor rowing competitions. Filer — whose long, nearly 6-foot frame is ideal for rowing — took the times she compiled in races ranging in length from 1-kilometer to 6-kilometers and sent them to coaches from some of the top crew programs in the nation.
When Filer finally visited the UW campus in January, she was completely sold on this new endeavor.
“I haven’t been on the water and, actually, I don’t know that much about the sport,” Filer said. “But I’ve always loved it a lot. My first (rowing) competition I wasn’t too prepared. But then at the second one I really did well. I started emailing coaches and telling them this was something I was interested in.”
If it seems logical that Filer would spend the upcoming summer actually getting acclimated to the sport she is going to compete in at college, think again. Because of her status as a novice, the Washington coaching staff informed Filer they would prefer teaching her from scratch. That means no actual rowing for Filer until she arrives in Seattle.
“I’m not going to be on the water this summer, because there are very specific styles in rowing, and they want to teach me the right way,” Filer said. “I’ll be doing a lot of strength work, a lot of Olympic-style land training, so I have something to build on when I get there.”