Rower Amanda Touse promotes women’s empowerment on campus – The Quadrangle
Through, Mary Thomas, Staff writer
In addition to her achievements as a rower, junior Amanda Touse is making great strides in empowering women on campus.
Touse joined the rowing team last April as a season changer and was completely new to the sport. In that short time she has rowed every seat on the port side of the boat. Throughout the fall season, Touse was the stroke seat of the 2v.
Although Touse had no previous rowing experience, she has already broken several records with the team. She currently holds the team record for the 5000m time trial at the Erg., which she finished in 2:01.1s/500m and finished with a final 5K time of 20:11.8s.
As well as gaining experience and skill as a rower, Touse quickly adapted to life as a student and athlete. She was recently named a 2021 MAAC All-Academic Team Honoree and achieved a top three GPAs this fall semester.
In an email to the Quadrangle, Touse wrote: “Being able to juggle and balance as an athlete, keep my grades, advance my career and try to maintain a social life has admittedly been a struggle, that I struggle with every day, but I wouldn’t give it away either.”
But there’s more to being a student-athlete than just organization and balance. Coach Katherine Hicks said: “Being a PE also means looking after your teammates and putting the needs of the team ahead of your own. Amanda was a fantastic teammate when it came to encouraging and leading by example other rowers during races and tough training sessions.”
In addition to Touse’s strong academic record, she is involved with several organizations on campus. Touse is employed by the Center for Academic Success as a Student Success Mentor and is an intern at the Lasallian Women and Gender and Resource Center (LWGRC).
At LWGRC, Touse made a massive impact on campus when she initiated the Women’s Empowerment Hour at the Kelly Commons Fitness Center, held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:15-2:15 p.m. each week. This hour is not exclusive to individuals who identify as female, but is an opportunity for all people to explore fitness in a non-judgmental environment.
“Again and again I’ve heard girls say they want to lift or exercise but don’t want to look stupid or have people stare at them,” Touse wrote. “That really gave me the idea to start a women’s hour in Manhattan.”
Touse first addressed the concept in an interview for her internship position at the LWGRC. After she was hired as an intern, the center’s co-directors Evelyn Scaramella and Rachel Cirelli helped make it a reality by putting Touse in touch with Jay Ahmed, the director of the fitness center.
Touse also conducted several surveys to gauge student interest and collected a variety of responses, some of which were posted anonymously on the LWGRC Instagram page. Then several versions of posters were created and released to spread the word.
“I said to her, ‘Let’s get straight to the point of what people are saying [on Instagram]’ said Cirelli. “It’s obviously anonymous, but I think it resonated with a lot of people, and it probably resonated even with people who have never been to the women’s center.”
Cirelli explained that most interns have a specific area of interest, which ensures that the center offers services and creates programs that are diverse in content.
“Here’s a student who cares, and she made it happen, and now the whole community is benefiting,” Cirelli said. “I really think that’s the whole purpose of the women’s center. It is a student run center. We are literally just custodians of what the students think is important.”
Although Touse had not started rowing when the Women’s Empowerment Hour was established, there is certainly a connection between her work at LWGRC and her commitment to rowing.
“Having an amazing group of girls to wake up to and train with every day, who have your back and are always pushing you to do your best and give your all both on and off the water is such an empowering feeling ‘ Touse said.
Touse’s leadership is felt by her peers, fellow rowers and coaches as she demonstrates what it means to be a team player.
“It’s just so positive that she’s trying to make an impact — not just on her team, but on the larger collegiate community,” said Alexander Canale, women’s rowing head coach. “That sends out all the signals that she’s likely to continue to have an impact on the community she’s involved with after she graduates. She is a strong leader for sure.”