By Danielle Nelson
*This article is posted on The Temple News website.
When junior Lea Millio first saw the Owls’ roster, she was taken aback by its size.
Coming from Archbishop Prendergast High School in Drexel Hill, Millio was accustomed to a smaller team.
Although Temple’s roster was larger, Millio said she was impressed with the relationship the squad had with the coaches and how close the athletes were.
“I loved that when I was a freshman, the seniors and juniors all came up to me and talked to me too,” Millio said. “They really brought me right in.”
Now the role is reversed.
Millio met some of the Owls’ 11 new recruits last year during visits and is eager to make them feel a part of the squad.
“Myself and other members of the team are really excited to bring them right in,” Millio said. “So they can jump in with the rest of the team and start the season.”
The Owls have eight rowers, two coxswains and one athlete without any rowing experience in their freshman class.
While experience played a significant role in the recruiting process, there were other things that stood out to the coaching staff.
“They are all very fast,” assistant coach Alyssa O’Donnell said. “They are all very strong. They are all very driven. They are tall, which we love. They want to work hard. They want to come into a program that makes a difference, and we are all about that.”
Although the athletic cuts happened more than one year ago, O’Donnell said that it is one of the questions she is often asked about during the recruitment process.
“A lot of the times when you Google ‘Temple’s women’s rowing’ or ‘Temple rowing,’ what comes up is that we were cut, unfortunately,” O’Donnell said. “But that is very much significantly in the past, you know, on the back burner.”
The once condemned East Park Canoe House, which is under renovation and is set to be opened by the summer of 2016, has helped boost recruiting.
“One of the things that you realize with recruits is how much facilities and gears play a huge role in their interest,” O’Donnell said. “They want to know who is your gear sponsor and how much gear do you get and what your facilities are like. But we have brand-new facilities and we are opening a brand-new boathouse in the spring. So you really couldn’t ask for a better answer for their questions when it comes to the facilities.”
After Temple won three medals—gold, silver and bronze— and placed fourth at the American Athletic Conference Championship in May, coach Rebecca Smith Grzybowski said the 11 recruits will aid in the program’s goal of making it to the NCAA Rowing Championships in the future.
“We anticipate all of them making a significant impact over their four years with the team,” Grzybowski said. “That’s why we recruited them and we are excited.”
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