Maggie Stroebel demonstrated plenty of athletic versatility as a high schooler.
A native of Saukville, Wisc., Stroebel lettered four times in track and cross country and twice in basketball for Cedarburg.
But a college trip east inspired Stroebel to add another athletic pursuit.
“My older brother (Spencer) went to Princeton in the Class of 2012 and had walked on to the men’s lightweight team,” said Stroebel. “I had visited him and I really loved the school.”
Joining the Milwaukee Rowing Club in the summer after her junior year in high school, Stroebel ended up following her brother’s footsteps, becoming a member of the Princeton women’s lightweight crew program in the fall of 2010.
Later this month, Stroebel will wrap up her Princeton crew career as she leads the lightweight varsity 8 at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta on Mercer Lake in West Windsor.
Stroebel has made up for lost time in her rowing career. “I actually started really late for someone who got recruited,” said Stroebel.
“Crew is not a sport like basketball or soccer that requires a skill set developed over the years. You can be recruited with a good ERG (ergometer) score. I picked up the technique quickly. I rowed my entire senior year in high and the summer after. We rowed at the Head of Charles in the fall of my senior year and did well. We went to club nationals in Tennessee that spring.”
In her freshman year at Princeton, Stroebel quickly made her presence felt. “We had a really strong team and a really strong group of seniors,” said Stroebel.
“I raced in the 1V (first varsity 8) in the fall. I was thrown into the fire and that was a good experience. I ended up helping the 2V get a bronze that spring at the Eastern Sprints.”
Over the next two seasons, Stoebel was a fixture in the program’s top boat.
“I was in the 1V in the spring; it was definitely a rebuilding year after losing so many seniors,” said Stroebel.
“That year we had some downs after the highs of the year before. In junior year, we did better; we were on the way to getting back to where we were in 2011.”
This year, Stroebel has led the way for the Tigers, serving as a team captain along with junior Rebecca Kreutter.
“It was such an honor; I have so much respect for the previous captains,” said Stroebel.
“I come down every day looking to be a leader and looking to be positive. Things can drag so I try to keep people motivated and keep us going.”
Princeton has enjoyed a positive spring, taking second in the san Diego Crew Classic, winning the Knecht Cup regatta, and taking third at the Eastern Sprints. “Every year, we want to medal at the sprints and IRAs,” said Stroebel.
“We were excited to win the Knecht Cup. We got a third at the Sprints; we had a good race.”
Learning from the Sprints where Princeton grabbed an early lead before getting passed by champion Harvard-Radcliffe and runner-up Wisconsin, Stroebel believes the top boat can race even better at the national championship regatta.
“We are looking forward to the IRAs; we think we can beat Wisconsin and Harvard-Radcliffe,” said Stroebel, who has been rowing in the No. 2 seat for the Tigers this spring.
“I like that strategy of going out fast. It is hard to sit back and get a medal. We are working on base pace and endurance. We have a young boat, with two freshmen and some sophomores. We have been very focused. Everyone comes down and even though we are in exams, they put that aside and work hard. We have a good group.”
As Stroebel heads down the homestretch of her Princeton career, she is determined to have a good time in the water.
“I am trying to relish it; talking about graduation seems unbelievable,” said Stroebel.
“I am trying to enjoy every day on the water. I hope to row later in life but this is the last time I will be on an eight like this. This is it for me with competitive rowing.”
No matter what happens, Stroebel is glad she followed her brother’s path.
“I think rowing has helped me so much, being on a team is special,” said Stroebel, who will be working in marketing for a New York City firm after graduation.
“I couldn’t imagine going through Princeton any other way; my teammates have really been supportive in so many ways.”