May 8, 2014
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- For Amanda Elmore, rowing at Michigan was at first a bonus. After a standout career in Purdue's well-regarded ARCA club program, including stints with the USRowing U23 Team, Elmore was accepted into the University of Michigan's Ph.D. Program in Biomedical Sciences (PIBS).
Elmore had considered giving up rowing if accepted at another program, but Michigan offered the complete package. She could pursue her doctorate in biomedical research and row for one of the nation's top Division I programs.
Elmore came to Ann Arbor and quickly earned a spot on Michigan's 1V8 boat, which has won six races in a row heading into the Big Ten Championships next Sunday (May 18) in Indianapolis. Her success this season with the Wolverines has led to the continuation of her rowing career, as Elmore received an invitation to compete for a spot on the USRowing Senior National Team this summer.
Q: You're from West Lafayette, Ind., so Purdue was right in your backyard. Talk about your four years rowing at Purdue and how you became a rower?
Elmore: My brothers both rowed at Purdue, and they always told me I would row once I got to Purdue. My high school didn't have a rowing program, so when I started at Purdue, I went to the try out like everybody else and then I learned how to row. Right from the beginning, I felt like I had a natural talent for it, but that's not the reason I continued with it. I loved the rowing culture at Purdue, everyone was excited to be there no matter how good they were. We got to do a lot of fun things, travel to a lot places, meet a lot of people. I can't think of anything I didn't like about rowing at Purdue. As I kept with it and kept improving and made it into the national team scene, that's when I started to think about rowing at a place like Michigan for this season.
Q: What responsibilities did you have on the team outside of rowing at Purdue?
Elmore: We had a lot of officer positions on the team. At the club level, the coaches just coach, and the athletes organize everything else. We did a lot of community service, and we organized our own trailer loading and traveling. The team also organizes fundraisers to help offset the costs of running the program. I was the rigger, which was in charge of trailer loading and cleaning the boathouse.
Q: Your success at Purdue led to invitations to compete with US Under-23 team which won gold medals at U23 World Championships in 2012 and 2013. (Current Michigan teammate Chrissy Holm was in her women's eight boat that won gold in Lithuania in 2012) You were the lone rower from a club team on each roster. What was the experience like?
Elmore: It was absolutely terrifying when I first got there. I completely didn't think that I belonged. I thought I was an imposter and that I had gotten there by accident. But I kept doing well, and really surprised myself and made a boat. It was really fun to win with all those other girls that wanted to win.
Q: After four successful years at Purdue, where you were a three-time ACRA First Team All-American, how did you come to the decision of continuing your rowing career at Michigan?
Elmore: It was something that I went back and forth on a lot. I really enjoyed my time at Purdue and on the national team, but I also wanted to start my career and go to graduate school. I really wanted to start research work, so I started looking at grad programs and I applied to a lot of Ivy League programs, where I wouldn't be allowed to row. But I also applied to Michigan mainly because they have an amazing microbiology program here but also because I knew some of the rowers. When I interviewed here, (I felt) the program was absolutely amazing. After talking to all the scientists here, I knew this was the place I wanted to come. At the time, rowing was a cool perk. I said, 'Oh cool, I get to row here as well' But now I can't imagine having gone anywhere else, because it's been really great. The team definitely made me feel included right away. The first weekend I was here, they're inviting me over, and I went out to dinner with the team. What's kind of cool about our team here is that there aren't cliques. Everyone is friends with each other. At practice it's a lot of fun, everyone jokes around with each other and it's a good environment.
Q: You quickly earned a spot on the 1V8 boat, which has won six races in a row heading into the Big Ten Championships next Sunday. So you feel team is peaking at the right time?
Elmore: We've been through a lot this season with the ice on the lake and the weather. We've had an issue with our boat and some injuries, so we've been through a lot. But I think that's made us stronger and we're getting faster every single day. Even when we have a practice that isn't as good, we're still getting better than the week before. Our last two races at home have gone really well. I think we're in good position going into championship season.
Q: You mentioned your experience with USRowing over the last two summers. Do you plan to continue to row in the USRowing program?
Elmore: I got invited to train with the senior national team in Princeton, NJ. At first I wasn't going to accept, but with our training plan at Michigan, I improved so much in terms of fitness, and on the water as Mark (Rothstein) is a great coach. So I've decided to head out to Princeton in June to train, hopefully for the summer world championships and then maybe the 2016 Olympics. I've worked it out with my (Pd.D.) program that they'll allow me to take some time off and I'll still be working part-time on a project on the computer. It's amazing how supportive my thesis mentor, Dr. Patrick Schloss, has been in helping me work that out. My plan is to stay in Princeton for a few years - but there is a lot of uncertainty with (competing for a spot on) the national team. When I come back I'd love to be involved in volunteer coaching at Michigan
Q: What career path do you see yourself taking after finishing up rowing?
Elmore: The program I'm in is a Ph.D. program in biomedical research. I'm not sure exactly what I'd like to do at this point, but most people in the program stay in research, whether it's for a biotech company or staying in academia and doing research at a university, which is probably what I'd like to do, because I'd like teaching undergrads.