Gael in the Spotlight | From the row to the street

That Management of Common Interests Gael Spotlight is a monthly feature on Saint Mary’s Athletics and a behind-the-scenes look at the Gaels.

MORAGA, California – Rowing is an enigma in the world of collegiate athletics, as most rowers seem to not find their way into the sport until high school. Such was the case for the Oregon native Hathaway Scarpineentering her third season with the Gaels after missing all of last season through injury.

“Growing up in Portland, you spend a lot of time by the water, and during my freshman year of high school, I sat next to this girl who was rowing, and my parents thought I should try it,” Scarpine recalls. “I ended up going to Row City Rowing Club Boathouse and just started rowing a week later. I’ve always loved long cardio workouts and it seemed like a perfect fit.”

It was a perfect fit, and Scarpine quickly fell in love with the sport, despite not getting on the water until the spring of her freshman year.

“I loved being part of that team environment and because rowing is quite individual in the sense that you have to train on your own but in the boat you can’t work without your teammate. So when we’re on the Erg for three months you push the girl next to you because you know if she doesn’t get any faster then three months later your boat will be the slowest on the water. I think it made me stick with it and I made some really good friends very quickly.”

It wasn’t until her junior year of high school that Scarpine knew she wanted to row in college, and that’s when she stumbled upon Saint Mary’s. “I saw Saint Mary’s at a college fair and reached out to the coach who was recruiting at the time. I ended up coming for an official visit and loved the size of the campus and the small one that was different. My club team was pretty big, which was a nice change.”

Scarpine thrived during her freshman season with the Gaels and quickly became a central part of the roster. However, early in her sophomore season, Scarpine would embark on a road to recovery that even she could not have predicted due to an ongoing injury.

“Last fall I had pretty bad pain in my shoulder so I went and spoke to a surgeon who told me the labrum in my shoulder had completely collapsed. The surgeon basically said I could push it out as long as I wanted to, but sooner or later I was going to need surgery.”

Scarpine underwent surgery in November, placing her in a sling for eight weeks and ruling her out for her entire second season. “When I came back to school in January I had absolutely no reach in my right arm. It was definitely a big disappointment to see all your friends on the water when you’re on land and that’s when I really got into running.”

Most athletes work their way up from injury slowly, but Scarpine isn’t wired that way, and she soon found that she wasn’t putting in the miles on the water, but on land.

Running started out as an easy way to get cardio out of the water, but Scarpine soon realized she had a knack for it: “I wasn’t a runner before my freshman year, but during my recovery I got really into it because it was that only thing I could really do.”

She started training for a half marathon, running around the Briones reservoir while her teammates trained in the water. Scarpine quickly began to improve and even decided to run two full laps around the reservoir, which eventually turned into a full marathon. “A teammate dropped me off one morning and I walked around and it took so long. And it was miserable, but then I did it and I was like, well, that was pretty cool.”

As her shoulder began to improve, so did her running, running two official marathons last summer.

“I ran the Foot Traffic Flat Marathon in Portland and the Jack and Jill Marathon in Washington this summer. It really made me realize how much I love long workouts and running a proper marathon is pretty fun.”

But despite all the running, Scarpine was nervous about getting back on the erg.

“We recently did a 20 minute test on the Erg and I was so concerned about it. I thought I was walking so slowly. Like I’m so stressed. We’ve got 10 minutes in it and I thought I felt great! I didn’t really think my running would translate to the water and you say holy cow I’m actually in great shape,” Scarpine explained.

Getting back on the water wasn’t without its challenges, and Scarpine credits her teammates for being able to push her through tough times.

“I think what I learned from my injury is how inspiring it is to see your teammates pushing themselves to be the best they can be,” says Scarpine. “I think it’s so cool. I love what all my teammates are doing, it inspires you to keep pushing yourself.”

Maybe we can all push ourselves a little further because you never know what you’re capable of until you try.

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