Sister Act for GW Women's Rowing

March 31, 2014

For George Washington women's rowers Madison and Michaelah Townley, the 2014 spring season marks the second and final time the Saratoga Springs, N.Y., natives will compete on the same team.

Senior Madison and sophomore Michaelah have been rowing together since high school, but an unlikely sequence of events resulted in the two sisters finding a home at George Washington.

"I started rowing first in eighth grade," said Madison. "I initially did a camp over the summer and that is how I got involved. The camp fed into our high school program."

"I saw her rowing and I really enjoyed watching it and after a while I realized that I wanted to do it too," said Michaelah.

Madison interjects, "She was dead set on not doing it. I remember everyone was asking her and she kept saying `No, I am not going to do it.' But then one day she came up to me after a race and she was finally ready to admit she wants to row."

The duo spent two years rowing together as part of their high school team but never in the same boat. Little did they know that in just a few short years they would be collegiate teammates.

"I was on an official visit for another school when I got a phone call from Eric Carcich," explained Madison. "He was new here and it was his first year so he started recruiting late. I had never even heard of GW before but he called and showed interest in me so I figured I would check it out. I fell in love with the university and the team immediately. I knew this was the place for me."

When it came time for Michaelah to begin looking at colleges she had her eye on GW from the start and knowing that her sister was enjoying her collegiate rowing experience was motivation to follow her to Foggy Bottom.

"I looked at other places but in the end I just knew GW was the right fit," said Michaelah. "I came here because I love the rowing program and having Madison here was huge for me. It was a piece of home here at school. If I went to another school I would not have that and it was hard to pass up. That was key for me. I could talk to her, visit her, spend time together. She was a huge help in my transition."



As the 2014 spring season gets rolling, both sisters are amazed at the progress the program has made in just a few short years.

"We got seventh overall at the Atlantic 10 Championship in my freshman year," said Madison. "That makes me super excited for this season because our potential right now is so high. This is the fastest we have been and we have a lot of depth."

When not on the water together or training for the spring season, it is likely you can find the two sisters studying together. It might come as a surprise, but both are majoring in exercise science.

"Yes, we are both exercise science majors," said Madison. "The department at GW is great. It is very small and class sizes are so that it's a very personal atmosphere. We have a lot of the same professors and actually share the same advisor."

"Madison has been a big help both in rowing and in academics," said Michaelah. "If I struggle with course work or have any questions she has been here to help. To have someone who has gone through it is a huge help for me. She has been in the classes and had the professors."

The two sisters did not have a chance to row in the same boat in a race during their first collegiate season as teammates but being able to be on the same team that is steadily improving each season has been a thrill in and of itself.

"I don't think the freshman and sophomores can truly understand how far we have come in four years, "said Madison. "We went from seventh to second in one year and then won the Varsity 8 championship last season. We weren't even in the Grand Final my first season!"

"I agree, we have a ton of potential right now," said Michaleah. "We have been erging great, we had a great winter indoors and an awesome training trip in Tampa."

The Colonials are now a few weeks into their spring season and notched wins over Atlantic 10 rival Saint Joseph's in the opening weekend on March 22. GW will next row at the annual George Washington Invitational on its home water of the Potomac River, April 11-12.

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