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Vol. LXIV, No. 13
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
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G-FORCE: Katharine Thompson competing in action last season for the Georgetown University women’s lightweight crew team. Thompson, a former Mercer Junior Rowing Club standout and Stuart Country Day alum, was recently named as Georgetown’s BIG EAST Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Utilizing MJRC and Stuart Country Day Background, Thompson Excels In Rowing, Studies at Georgetown

Bill Alden

After suffering a herniated disc during her sophomore year in high school, Katharine Thompson could have drifted away from the sport of rowing.

But Thompson wasn’t about to stop competing for the Mercer Junior Rowing Club (MJRC) due to some back pain.

“The MJRC was a group that I clicked with and rowing was sport I took to; I liked everything about it,” said Thompson, a Princeton native who joined the MJRC in the 2002-03 season as a freshman at the Stuart Country Day School. “Crew is a sport where you get out of it what you put into it. I like to work hard and I like to see the results of my hard work.”

Battling through her back pain, Thompson’s work yielded a silver medal in the youth nationals as a member of the MJRC women’s lightweight 8 during her junior year in high school.

After finishing her MJRC career and graduating from Stuart, Thompson took her work ethic to Georgetown University and its women’s lightweight crew program.

She has excelled in the water, becoming a key performer for the Hoyas varsity program. Her hard work has also paid dividends in the classroom where she was recently named as Georgetown’s BIG EAST Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

This spring, senior Thompson is working hard to culminate her crew career with some lofty results.

“Our team goal is to win the national championship,” said Thompson, whose final spring campaign will start on April 3 with the Class of 2004 Cup on the Charles River in Boston as the Hoyas face Radcliffe.

“We were fifth last year at IRAs (Intercollegiate Rowing Association national championships); that left us with an unsatisfied feeling. We have some great freshmen this year; we have a really great team dynamic. Everyone is committed to working toward the same goal. No Georgetown crew has ever won a national title. We have six seniors and all of us are on the same page. The coach has been talking to us about leaving a legacy.”

For Thompson, the reality of the impending end to her college rowing career has sharpened her focus.

“It is bittersweet; there are days when my body feels run down but that is overridden when I think this is really it,” said Thompson.

“I want to make sure that when I graduate; that I have no regrets. I want to know that I gave everything I had.”

As she heads toward graduation, Thompson has no regrets about her decision to come to Georgetown.

“Coming from Stuart and the Catholic education, I liked the values emphasized at Georgetown where the motto is to care for the whole person,” said Thompson. “There is an emphasis on community service and giving back to community. They talk a lot about the education of the whole person and being the best person you can be.”

Thompson’s experience with the MJRC helped her be the best rower that she could be at the college level.

“I felt like I was prepared for college rowing coming from MJRC,” said Thompson. “Mercer was a really good program; it makes you work really hard. I had the best ERG score on the novice team as a freshman because I was used to that kind of training.”

Utilizing her MJRC background, Thompson has risen steadily through the ranks of the Hoya lightweight program. She was the MVP of the novice team in 2007. As a sophomore, she competed for the 2nd varsity lightweight 8 and 1st varsity 4. In her junior season, she rowed in the bow seat for a top varsity 8 that finished third in the Eastern Sprints and fifth in the IRAs.

Her success is even more impressive considering that Thompson continues to be dogged by back problems.

“It is a constant battle; I have done a lot of therapy over the years,” said Thompson, who typically starts her day by doing back exercises with the team trainer.

“I can’t do all the ERG circuits. I do cross training, running stairs, and body circuits. I don’t have the ERG scores but the coach trusts me in races. He has been really great; he knows I get as much out my body as I can.”

Thompson has also gotten quite a lot of her academic experience at Georgetown, earning a 3.827 GPA as a French major with a minor in business.

Despite having been a two-time Collegiate Coaches Rowing Association (CRCA) National Scholar-Athlete, Thompson was floored upon learning that she had won the BIG EAST scholar-athlete award, which goes to one female and one male from each of the league’s 16 schools.

“I was really surprised, really honored,” said Thompson, who also participates in Georgetown’s Saxatones A Cappella singing group and the school’s New Student Orientation program and has earned a spot in the Georgetown University Leadership Academy.

“It was something the coaches mentioned and they nominated me. I couldn’t believe I really won it. I have worked hard at Georgetown but I didn’t work hard to win any awards. I just get satisfaction from performing as well as I can in everything I do. The award is something tangible to take away from the experience.”

After graduation, Thompson will be taking that experience to the Georgetown Law School, where she was accepted as a junior under the school’s Early Assurance Program.

“I like problem solving and using logic to think through things,” said Thompson, in reflecting on her choice to pursue law. “I want a career where I am intellectually challenged everyday. I don’t want to be bored doing the same thing.”

With Thompson’s work ethic and propensity to do her best in any situation, she should be up to the challenges presented by law.

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