Hockey has been Robin Linzmayer’s passion since grade school but getting hurt on the ice two winters ago helped her find another sporting love.
“I injured the meniscus in my knee in December of my freshman year,” said Linzmayer, a rising junior at Princeton Day School who stars on the Panther girls’ ice hockey team and also plays for the Princeton Tiger Lilies travel hockey club.
“I played for six weeks and then got an MRI. I had to sit out and have surgery. The recovery time was three months. My dad rowed in college and he told me it would be good exercise. I talked to my doctor and since rowing was easier on the knee and low impact, he said I could try it.”
While Linzmayer is comfortable gliding up ice, she found hitting the water a bit unsettling as she took up rowing with the Mercer Junior Rowing Club (MJRC) last spring.
“It was a little scary at first,” said Linzmayer. “Those boats rock more in the water than I thought.”
It wasn’t long before Linzmayer began rocking in her new sport. “The novice coach helped me out a lot,” said Linzmayer. “He put me in some boats with girls who had rowed before. It was really good.”
Earlier this month, Linzmayer showed how far she has come in her second sport, competing for the MJRC women’s lightweight 8 at the USRowing Youth National Championships on Melton Hill Lake in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Linzmayer’s trip to Tennessee marked her second appearance in a national competition in three months as she had skated with the Tiger Lilies’ 19U team at the USA Hockey Tier II Nationals in Dallas this past March.
For Linzmayer, getting the opportunity to make the rowing nationals resulted from some eleventh-hour heroics from the lightweight 8.
“We were put together three or four days before the regionals,” said Linzmayer, who rowed from the boat’s five seat. “It worked immediately; we were second at the regionals.”
After earning its shot at the nationals, the boat worked hard to improve. “We rowed every morning from 5:30 to 6:45 and then came back to the boathouse after school for two hours,” said Linzmayer. “We were feeling light and fast.”
Coming into the national regatta, the boat was primed to go fast. “I think as a boat we wanted to see how we compared to some of the faster boats in the country,” said Linzmayer. “We wanted to pull as hard as we could; that is all you can do.”
While the boat fell just short of making ‘A’ final, it never stopped working hard, taking second in the ‘B’ final to place eight overall nationally.
“We pulled as hard as we could in the semis and ended fourth, five seconds behind,” said Linzmayer.
“In the final, we wanted to get off the line hard. We gave it our all. At the end, no one was disappointed. Our coach said how proud she was of us; I couldn’t be prouder of my teammates.”
Getting exposed to the high level of competition in Tennessee has given Linzmayer motivation to hone her rowing skills.
“I had such a great time rowing at the nationals,” said Linzmayer. “It was fun just watching some of the faster boats. It was so inspiring to row against those boats. You get to see how fast you are and what more you can do to be faster.”
Reflecting on her appearance at the hockey nationals, Linzmayer gained a similar inspiration.
“It is always fun to play against players from all over the country and see the different styles of hockey,” said Linzmayer, who helped the Tiger Lilies advance to the national quarterfinals. “You see room for improvement and what you need to do to get better.”
In Linzmayer’s view, taking up crew has made her a better hockey player.
“It has helped me much more than I expected,” asserted Linzmayer, who will be taking part in several hockey camps this summer.
“I never realized how intense rowing is. From a physical standpoint, the lifting and cardio stuff helped. Mentally, it was great. You learn to push yourself as hard as you can over that seven minutes of the race. That carries over into hockey. You go out for a two-minute shift and play as hard as you can. You learn to push through limits.”