PHS Grad Stough Finds a Home on the Potomac, Coxing for Georgetown Women’s Lightweight Crew
BRONZE STAR: Katarina Stough, center, celebrates with her boat mates after piloting the Georgetown University women’s lightweight four to a bronze medal at the Eastern Sprints in late April in Worcester, Mass. The Princeton High grad and former standout coxswain for PNRA (Princeton National Rowing Association) Mercer Rowing enjoyed two homecomings this spring, competing for the Hoyas against Princeton on Lake Carnegie in a regular season matchup in April and then taking part in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta on Mercer Lake in June.
Katarina Stough got off to a good start when she joined the Georgetown University women’s lightweight rowing program in the fall of 2015.
The Princeton High grad and former standout coxswain for PNRA (Princeton National Rowing Association) Mercer Rowing immediately found a home on the Potomac with her new teammates.
“All of the girls were so accepting of me, they all really wanted me to succeed,” said Stough, who took up coxing in eighth grade when she took part in a Mercer Rowing camp. “In the fall, I was in the freshman eight.”
But that winter, Stough suffered a concussion and was not cleared to compete in the spring season.
Although Stough struggled to regain a comfort level once she got on the water as a sophomore, she made a lot of progress in the 2016-17 season.
“Having that concussion freshman year set me back, it took me a while mentally to recover and adjust from being off the team for eight months,” said Stough.
“We got a new coach Kieren Emery that year. He was an elite rower who had won worlds. He was very open with me about what I needed to do better, and that really allowed me to grow.”
This spring, Stough showed that growth, taking over as the cox for the Hoya lightweight four and helping pilot it to a bronze medal at the Eastern Sprints in late April in Worcester, Mass.
“I was super happy with how the season went; our team was so much deeper this year, so our lightweights were extremely competitive,” said Stough.
For Stough, this spring was also highlighted by two homecomings as the Hoyas competed against Princeton University on Lake Carnegie in a regular season matchup in April and then took part in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta on Mercer Lake in June.
“That was the first time the varsity eight had won the Princeton Cup since I have been here,” said Stough, noting that team’s eight had also defeated Radcliffe earlier in the spring.
“The IRAs were awesome, especially because I saw so many familiar faces. I saw a bunch of parents who I know from high school, it was really nice. I knew the course really well, the girls were like how did you know there were 320 meters left.”
In reflecting on her development as a cox this spring, Stough believes that knowing how to adjust her approach in the boat is a key strength.
“I have to gotten to the point to where I can adapt my coxing based on what crew I am with, so I no longer have a concrete style,” said Stough, who guided the lightweight four to fourth place in an unofficial “Rogue IRA” final that was put together after the regularly scheduled race was cancelled due to inclement weather on Mercer Lake that morning.
Extolling the squad’s camaraderie, Stough relishes working with her boat mates.
“I absolutely love Georgetown, being on the team has really shaped my experience,” said Stough. “I have never been with a group of people that loved each other so much.”
Looking ahead to her senior year, Stough loves where the program is heading.
“I am super excited because we only graduated three seniors this year,” said Stough.
“Since I have been at Georgetown, the lightweight team has grown from 14 girls and I think we are going to have 26 next year. It is amazing. I am excited coming off this season. We were coming dead last in the IRA in my freshman year and this year we were able to get the eight in the top four.”