April 25, 2014
It takes a certain amount of fortitude to be a successful rower. For those that make it onto the Michigan Rowing team, the demands are many. The grind of early morning practices combined with the physical requirements of the sport make rowing a test of mental acuity.
While at first glance, one wouldn't think the progression from rower to police officer would be a natural one, but considering the above, senior captain Tara Foley feels as prepared as anyone to pursue a career in law enforcement.
"You learn to be determined, committed and aggressive in rowing," Foley said. "But also there is a balance, because you have to be relaxed and calm during a race. I think this will transfer over well."
What does it take to become a police officer? Like many who train in their chosen vocation during college, Foley began her journey two years ago as a sophomore, when she started to think about life after Michigan.
"I needed to figure out what I was good at, what my strengths were," Foley said. "This was something that I was really interested in, and I think I could be good at."
While her grandfather was a volunteer police office in her native California, Foley had no other family members or friends in law enforcement to guide her first step into the field. When she told her teammates and coaches about her decision, many weren't surprised. Foley is a member of the team's four-person leadership council and is one of Michigan's top rowers on the first varsity eight crew this season.
"Well my teammates, a lot of them say, 'I can see that, I can totally see you doing that,'" Foley said. "I think that's because I come off as scary sometimes. But at the same time, once you get to know me I'm a normal person."
Count Michigan head coach Mark Rothstein among those who sees Foley's career path as a natural progression of her personality.
"I think she'd make an outstanding police officer. She has very good judgment. She's very mature. She's a really great leader on our team, so I think it makes a lot of sense to me," Rothstein said.
Last summer, at the conclusion of the 2013 rowing season, Foley remained in Michigan to begin an internship with the University of Michigan Police Department.
"I really enjoyed that," Foley said. "It was with the community policing department. I went for a few ride-alongs at different departments and that was a really good way to see if I was interested in this."
When Foley returned home to Los Gatos for an internship with the San Jose Police Department, she continued her ride-along training, which included an unexpected on-call visit to an incident scene.
"I was sitting there with a huge smile on my face," Foley said. "I was excited to go to the scene -- which ended up being nothing -- but that was another contributor to figuring out whether I wanted to do it or not."
Following her experience with the U-M Police Department, Foley took the next step and began a first round of testing, including a written exam (she passed), and physical testing, which took place during her time in San Jose. This part was the most demanding of her training thus far.
"There were about 60 men there, and probably five females, which was an interesting experience," Foley said. "I had to climb over a solid wall, which was the hardest because most of the men could run and jump over the wall. I came home with bruises all over my arms from getting over that wall."
After wrapping up a busy summer, Foley earned a spot on Michigan's first varsity eight roster before the start of the spring season. The harsh winter in Michigan hampered practice before the start of the spring schedule, but the Wolverines have come on of late, led by the efforts of Foley and the 1V8 crew. The 1V8 boat has won four straight races, and last weekend swept No. 4 Virginia and No. 9 Notre Dame in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
"This year in particular she's really blossomed as a team leader and a rower," Rothstein said. "She's no-nonsense, she's low drama, she wants to win and she has expectations for herself and leads by example. I think that is something that I've seen develop this year, and I think that will help her as well as she goes forward after graduation."
Foley will complete police academy training after the season when she goes in front of the Police Oral Board for questioning. But while the final step of her commitment will wait, she will continue to lead Michigan on the water. It will be great preparation for her near future.
"As a captain this season I've learned a lot through communicating effectively with our coaches and our team," Foley said. "That's a huge thing that I think will transition over into police work."
Contact: Jeffrey Weinstein