St. FX University had its best showing ever on the national stage this past weekend at the Canadian University Rowing Championships in St. Catharines, Ontario. St. FX student-athletes raced to best-ever finishes, including a top 5 spot, and their head coach left with honours of her own as the new President of the Canadian University Rowing Association (CURA).
Veteran rower Fiona McDougall, of Ottawa, completing her final year of the BEd program at St. FX, had a strong time trial, against a field dominated by an outstanding class of student-athletes. In the final on Sunday, she rowed a gutsy race and moved up a spot from her seeding, finishing fifth (eleventh overall).
The lightweight men’s double, stroked by Sam Court and bowed by Tristan Kays, pushed hard in the time trial and qualified for the A final, deposing reigning Canadian University champions, the University of British Columbia. Court, a 2nd-year Business student from St. Catharines, and Kays, a 1st-year Business student from Bedford, NS, had an undefeated season in Atlantic Canada. In this first year of a new partnership, Court and Kays raced aggressively in the final and moved up a spot from seeding, placing fifth overall. This is the highest placing a StFX crew has achieved, since the program began competing nationally.
In the men’s pair, Garrett Nielsen, of Calgary, and Cecil Van Buskirk, of Saint John, NB, faced a top-notch field of Canada’s most skilled oarsmen. Seeded twelfth entering the final on Sunday, they edged out the University of Ottawa pair to finish eleventh overall. In the women’s eight, led by the deeply experienced coxswain Maddy Horne, of Wolfe Island, ON, the crew had a challenging piece in the Saturday time trial, but recovered well to finish tenth in the final on Sunday. This boat features four women from Antigonish: Abby MacInnis, Sarah England, Alyssa Mansfield, and Natalie Dreise. Rounding out the crew is Taylor Breneol (Saint John, NB), Alexis Rains (Brookfield, NS), Bethany Madsen (Iqaluit, NU), and Maeghan Ziebarth (Pakenham, ON).
Finally, the newly-formed lightweight women’s double, with Renee McDonald (Surrey, BC) and women’s captain Alya Jaffer (Kanata, ON), raced their way into the B final on Sunday, and led the field through the thousand-meter mark. An unfortunate gust of wind shunted them to the back of the pack, leading to a twelfth-place overall finish.
“This was a hugely successful showing for St. FX Rowing, and it’s a reflection of the high calibre of training the team has undertaken in the past few years,” says Head Coach and President of Row Nova Scotia, Katie Edwards. “St. FX is starting to attract top high school rowers from across the country and their hard work is paying off.”
In addition to the tremendous success of the student-athletes, Head Coach Katie Edwards was elected President of CURA at the annual general meeting on Monday. She is the first woman to hold the position in the organization’s history. Edwards has been involved the sport of rowing in Nova Scotia since 2009, as a coach, developer, board member, and President of the Antigonish Rowing Club. She has served on the board of CURA since 2014.
In 2018, Edwards was elected President of Row NS, after serving seven years in various roles on the board.
“I tend to push for system reformation, in the hopes of creating sustainable, ambitious organizations that will be successful in the long term,” says Edwards. “I enter into these roles with some very basic ideas about growing and becoming a better organization to provide athletes, coaches, and umpires with the best possible experiences.”
With her out-of-the-box thinking, Edwards has achieved significant success in the sport of rowing in her community of Antigonish, in the province of Nova Scotia, and now she’ll tackle some larger-scale projects on the national stage.