DURHAM, N.C. – Head coach Megan Cooke Carcagno and the Duke rowing program are pleased to announce the addition of Shae Simpson to compete for the Blue Devils in the 2019-20 season.
Simpson comes from New York, New York and currently attends the Riverdale Country School in the Bronx, N.Y. She rowed under head coaches Claudia Loeber and David Naughton at Riverdale, while also competing with rowing club EngineRM under head coach Chris Ives.
Simpson started rowing her sophomore year and earned a varsity letter in each of the past three years at Riverdale. Simpson was named captain of the team her senior year, and competed along with her high school teammates in the New York State Scholastic Championships and the SRAA Youth National Championships her junior year.
Simpson also competed in swimming and field hockey at Riverdale, where she was a four-year letter winner in each sport. She was named team captain of the swimming team her senior year, and earned the Coaches’ Award her junior year. During her four years at Riverdale, she was selected to compete at the Eastern Swimming and Diving Championships A finals. Simpson earned the field hockey MVP award during her senior campaign, and was named a Scholar of Distinction to the 2017 and 2018 National Field Hockey Coaches Association High School National All Academic Teams.
Both of Simpson’s parents are graduates of Duke. Her mother, Lisa, graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1991, while earning her Juris Doctor degree from the Duke University Law School in 1994. Her father, Alex, rowed heavyweight crew at Dartmouth College (1985-1989) and obtained his Juris Doctor degree from the Duke University Law School in 1993. Shae also has a brother Austin.
What has been your favorite rowing memory?
SS: Last year my high school team hosted a scrimmage at the boathouse we row out of on the Harlem River. We raced a lot of fun, 1000 meter sprints in random boat lineups; my favorite lineup was a mixed eight made up of our varsity girls’ four and our varsity boys’ four. We had never rowed in that lineup before, and the Harlem River is pretty choppy and crowded with ferries and other boat traffic. On top of that, our cox-box stopped working, so we couldn’t hear our coxswain. That race was still my favorite memory because I got to be together in the boat with so many of my teammates. Without the cox-box, we just started passing calls down the boat one person at a time from stroke to bow. Someone started yelling out inside jokes that we had as a team and I just remember laughing and rowing in time with everyone else. That really captures the spirit of the sport for me: you work hard, but you also laugh and connect with your teammates.
How did you get started in rowing?
SS: My dad walked on to the Dartmouth men’s heavyweight team when he was a freshman in college and loved everything about being on a collegiate rowing team. So he has always been dropping hints that I should try the sport. I’ve been a competitive swimmer since I was eight and I’ve also played field hockey since middle school, but I’d always wanted to try rowing. Luckily, my high school had a crew team that I joined in tenth grade, and I immediately fell in love with the sport. It just clicked so much better for me than the other sports I had tried. I love how well the aspects of individual sports and team sports are combined in rowing.
Why did you choose Duke?
SS: When looking at colleges, I was looking for a school that had stellar academic opportunities, strong school spirit and a supportive atmosphere for student athletes. Duke perfectly combines everything I was looking for. After getting the chance to meet Coach Cooke Carcagno and Coach Graham and some of the team members I could tell that this team is extremely supportive and a great place to grow as an athlete. Just setting foot on campus, you can tell that the students at Duke experience a strong sense of community and pride for their school. On the academic side, with the Evolutionary Anthropology department, I get a one of a kind opportunity to study human evolution, something I’ve always wanted to study.
Hobbies: Reading, drinking bubble tea, baking, hiking, guitar hero
Favorite Athlete: Katie Ledecky
Best advice: “Hydrate or diedrate”