MSU Rowing continues to honor Olivia Long’s legacy
By Marvin Pride for msuspartans.com
EAST LANSING, MI – It started as a silent idea, an important way to keep the memory of a beloved teammate alive.
Captain of the women’s rowing team Olivia Lang was known for her energy and enthusiasm. She died on August 27, 2021 due to a car accident on the freeway while driving back to MSU. The unexpected loss devastated the team and saddened the entire MSU rowing community.
teammate Erica McIntee coined the phrase “Liv On” as a small tribute to Long. Those words have grown larger as they now represent a successful fundraiser for a new bowl and an effort by MSU Athletics and her parents to create a scholarship in Long’s name.
The “Liv On” phrase will be used throughout the spring season on a new $60,000 Empacher brand racing jacket, as well as some items such as bracelets and hats. The boat is scheduled for delivery in February.
“I just had her name spelled out and I saw the Liv On and, oh my god, her name says ‘Liv On,’ and I thought it would be a cool way to keep things going,” McIntee said.
teammate Emily Petrosky said she thought of Long as she walked around campus and spoke with McIntee in early fall. They wanted to honor Long, but also show what she accomplished during her time at MSU.
“We were on a walk and we were like, ‘Oh my God, how can we honor her,’ and we came up with the idea of building the boat so her legacy can live on through rowing,” she told Petroski.
During Long’s time at MSU, she earned Academic All Big Ten honors, led the team, and helped create an LGBTQ+-friendly space for the on-campus sports community called the Spartan Pride Alliance. “Everything you could ask of someone; [she was] so kind, someone who generally cares,” Petrosky said.
rowing coach Kim Chavers described the importance of having this boat in the MSU fleet. It will always honor Long and let future Spartans know the impact Long had on the rowing team. “This particular type of boat is made in Germany…they’re Olympic level rowing boats and they’re yellow, that’s their branding strategy, Olivia’s favorite color was yellow and that’s when I got the idea to buy one of those boats,” Chavers said.
The campaign to acquire the shell was eventful as the team raised $30,000 and had a donor match that amount. Fundraising for Long began in late November with a campaign that lasted eight days. The team was running a Crowd Power campaign to raise the money when a big surprise arrived.
On Giving Thursday, November 30, a donor came forward who matched the $30,000 raised by the team. The anonymous donor is a supporter of the rowing community and a Spartan alumni.
“It warms our hearts to know that people wanted to donate to this fund and give back to the rowing community and support Olivia,” said Petrosky.