DURHAM, N.C. – Before Duke rowing senior Katherine Maitland enters her final season as a Blue Devil, GoDuke.com reflects back on her time on the water.
Maitland has been a member of the V8 since her freshman campaign as she made an immediate impact on the squad. As a sophomore, Maitland was a Second Team Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association All-Region selection as she helped guide the V8 to the program’s first NCAA Championship appearance.
Last season, Maitland captured the Carolina Cup championship and captured ACC Crew of the Week honors following the performance in Chapel Hill.
Maitland is also a two-time All-ACC Academic Team selection and was named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll.
GoDuke.com recently sat down with Maitland to reflect on her time at Duke, discuss goals for the upcoming season and learn what DWR means to her.
How do you know coming to Duke was the right decision for you?
KM: “I know that coming to Duke was the right decision for me because I am able to fully be myself here and be the best version of myself. Duke has expanded my world view and made me more socially conscious, whilst teaching me about myself and my values.”
What have the relationships you’ve formed here meant to you and how have they added to your experience?
KM: “The relationships I have formed here are the most important part of my Duke experience – my girls are what will make it so hard to move on after four years. The university is beautiful, and the food in Durham is better than anything I’ll get when I move back home, but DWR is like my family. I knew when I took my official at Duke that moving 3,000 miles away was going to turn out just fine because the women of DWR would have my back. Now, four years later, I have friends that have altered my whole perspective on life; they have become my family away from family and I love them to the ends of the earth.”
What will a degree from Duke mean to you?
KM: “A degree from Duke will mean that my hard work has paid off, and I am one step closer to the end goal of being a doctor. The degree is more than just a piece of paper. It’s a signal that I have grown and developed as an athlete, student, and person.”
What has been your proudest academic achievement throughout your three and a half years?
KM: “Last semester I took a class in the biology department called Human Embryology, which was both a science course about embryological development, and an ethics course on embryology-related issues such as abortion and genetic engineering etc. It was definitely the best class I’ve taken at Duke. (I wish I had taken it sooner so I had more time to explore similar courses). Though I’m typically a bit of a nerd, I really enjoyed doing my readings and taking part in the class discussions, and I learned so much over the course of the semester. For me, that’s the most important factor in my academic achievement: did I leave the class with more knowledge than I came in with, and am I better equipped for the real world? It was the first A+ I’ve received at Duke, and I’m very proud of that.”
What is one lesson Duke rowing has taught you that you will carry over to the rest of your life?
KM: “Rowing teaches you a lot of lessons that carry over to life in general. “Trust the process” is a phrase we use often. It means putting in the work and believing that on race day you have done the preparation you need win. To me personally, it also highlights the importance of the journey over the end goal, something which is important to remember outside of rowing, especially during senior year when the expectation is to know who you want to be and what you want to do next, when the reality is that you’ve got another 60 years to figure all that out.”
What is one team goal you all have for the season?
KM: “We want to win the ACC Championship, and have a good time doing it. What’s the point in putting in the hours of hard work, and putting our bodies through what they go through day after day, if we aren’t going to love it? Sure, there are hard days, but to be able to stand on the podium come May 14th and look back at the process and be able to say ‘wow, that was fun’. That’s what I want everyone on this team to feel. I think if you enjoy the process then the result is just that, a result, it’s not as important as the journey or the people that got you there.”
How has your role changed from being a freshman to a senior?
KM: “Throughout my four years, I have prided myself on my ability to get it done on and off the water, and lead with my actions. As a freshman I was very quiet. I don’t think I said anything more than a sentence at one time and I would never have spoken up in a meeting, but I would hit the splits on the erg and get the results on the water. Now, I am much more vocal in my leadership style, in addition to getting the work done and leading by example. Part of that comes inherently from being a senior because people look to you for guidance, but I have also learned over the four years to voice my own opinion and stand-up for what’s right.”
What does Duke rowing mean to you?
KM: “Family, love, acceptance, strong women, discovery, overcoming adversity… the list could go on and I could never speak more highly of any of the amazing women that have crossed paths with DWR.”
What is one of your favorite memories from being a part of the rowing family?
KM: “There are so many! ACCs in 2016 definitely stands out. Firstly, the final was unbelievable. We never really expected to get second, but at 750m to go something clicked in the boat like we all just decided to we were not okay with being down to Syracuse and the boat just took off. We hadn’t had the best season leading up to the championships, and other Duke boats were seeded much higher than we were in our event, so I remember thinking ‘we’ve got to go for them’. I knew if we didn’t get top two then it wouldn’t matter how well they did, we wouldn’t be going to NCAAs. Clinching second by a bowball was pretty special. I also remember standing on the beach with Katie Duke, who was a senior at the time, watching the 2V8 race down after us. There is a great picture, I have it framed on by bookcase, of us hugging in tears as they crossed the line in second, when we both realized it could actually happen and we actually might go to NCAAs.”
How do you plan to lead your team this year and how will you define success?
KM: “We have a great senior class this year, with so many different and important voices. We are stronger together and very committed to leaving this team in a position better than it was left to us. That’s growth, and we are following a 20+ year legacy of incredible women who have rowed for Duke, even before rowing was a varsity sport. It is our duty to honor their legacy, and put the best interests of the team first.”
What role are you embracing this year that you haven’t in past years?
KM: “I was a captain last season, but looking back, reflecting on my decisions and actions, I wasn’t fully prepared to take on the important role. I take a lot of ownership for the things that didn’t go to plan last year so I’m grateful I get a second chance to lead with my fellow seniors, and learn from last year to be both a better leader and a better teammate. There is nothing that would make me happier than this team being successful and us getting what we want. I see the hard work people put in, the hours on the water and the erg, and the emotional commitment they give to this sport and this team, and I want it to pay off for them so they can look back and be proud of everything they have achieved in their four years at Duke.”