Alumnae Spotlight: Amanda Milad '11

Simmons alumna Amanda Milad '11 is the newest staffer of row2k.com, the most heavily trafficked and widely read rowing website in the world. As Milad prepares to cover this weekend's Head of the Charles Regatta, the Rye, NH native tells us about her experience covering this summer's world championships in Chungju, South Korea. She also reflects on her time as a Simmons student athlete and what keeps her involved in the rowing community.
 

Q: Describe your role at Row2k.

A: My day to day at row2k varies, but I handle most of the ad sales and fundraising. I work on features—anything from personal stories about rowers to coverage of regattas, and take photos at regattas most weekends that get posted on the site.

Q: What was your trip to South Korea like?

A: In a word: incredible. In a few more words: Being my first World Championships, I went to Korea not knowing what to expect. When I set up in the media center on the first day, and started chatting with writers and photographers from FISA (the international governing body of rowing), BBC and other major media outlets, I learned that the venue in Chungju was one of the best in the world.

The level of racing was outstanding. Obviously it's Worlds so it's going to be good, but there is a tendency for the year after the Olympics to be a bit less competitive because many people take the year off and the championships tends to have a lot of fresh blood. Well, there were old and new this year, but all were really really fast—Olympians in the B final fast. The USA Women's 8+ had broken the World's Best Time at the World Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland and with only one person changed in the lineup (due to an injury), they were the definite favorites going into the race. They just walked away from the field and won handily. A good friend of mine who used to train in Boston, Lauren Schmetterling, was in the boat and it was so awesome seeing her right when she got off the water. All the women were just beaming.

 

Q: What is it like meeting and interviewing elite athletes?

A: Rowers, especially American rowers, are unique athletes in that they don't get much press coverage so they tend to have two reactions to press: extreme excitement or complete disinterest. It's not like a football team that even in college is expected to attend a press conference after their game. Rowers are used to putting their boat away after they race and going about with their cool down routine. However, that being said, it made the interviews even more special because they are few and far between for the US athletes. I got to know a few people quite well, so by the end of the week we were all just joking around. It's easy at first to be star struck, especially by those who are really accomplished, but a few minutes into an interview and you realize that they are just like your teammates.

Q: What do you love most about crew and coxing?

A: When I was still in college I would have said that my favorite aspect of the sport is the deep level of teamwork required by rowing. That's still true, but since graduating I have developed a greater appreciation for the larger rowing community. I am really active at Riverside and on the board of the indoor rowing championships, C.R.A.S.H.-B. Sprints. Since I started working at row2k this year, I have noticed even more how tight knit and loyal the rowing community can be.

Q: What is your fondest memory of your time with Simmons Crew?

A: I will never forget my freshman year ECAC win---there is something so special about the first year on a team—learning new traditions, developing new friendships, but when that is capped off with a win at a major race, it's priceless.

The moments when the team was all-together—be it at 5am in the boat bay laughing, or at dinner in Florida—those memories are the ones that I think of when I think of my college experience.

 

Q: Is there a particular race from your time competing with Simmons Crew that you're most proud of?

A: The ECAC race that we won in 2007 was really special, but the standout race from that season was at the Donahue Cup when we beat Williams by 0.4 seconds. Williams Women's Rowing is a very strong program that tends to leave other crews in their wake, but my boat that year hung with them every stroke and nabbed the win in the end. I think all nine of us still wear our Williams shirts proudly.

Q: Was there a class at Simmons that helped you prepare for the "real world?"

A: I may not be using too many statistical analysis methods now, but my econometrics class with Professor Sohrabji. It required analytical, out of the box thinking at all times and Professor Sohrabji constantly pushed us to think broader than our limits. I worked outside my comfort zone, which more than teaching me economics, prepared me for my post-collegiate work. When I go to a new regatta, or interview an Olympic gold medalist, I may be a bit outside my norm, but I feel prepared to adjust to my new settings and work hard.

Q: What are your responsibilities during HOCR weekend?

A: Well, first and foremost I'll be the lead writer for row2k this weekend. On Saturday I will also race, so I'll be back and forth along the course a lot more that day. Sunday I will bike down the course in the morning, and talk to as many people as I can all day. I'll write two or three recaps about the regatta and Tweet/Facebook any interesting happenings during the day.

Q: Who is the most interesting athlete you've met preparing for HOCR so far?

A: Well, I met Emma Twigg (New Zealand sculler, 4th place at London Olympics) a few minutes ago and she was lovely! I'm looking forward to many great conversations this weekend with rowers new and seasoned. That's the fun of HOCR—the young junior rowers, the masters who have been racing for decades, the Olympians—it's just a great mix.

Q: Which race are you most excited to watch?

A: I am really looking forward to watching the Championship Women on Saturday afternoon. Gevvie Stone, a Cambridge Boat Club sculler, who was the 2012 London USA W1x will be defending her win. She has won this event a number of times—both because of her incredible speed and technique, but also because of her comfort on the racecourse. It's a windy river with a strong home course advantage.

Behind Gevvie will be Ursula Grobler who was the LW1x for South Africa this year at Worlds, along with Emma Twigg, New Zealander who was 4th in the W1x in London and Maria Knapkova, the winner of the W1x at the Olympics.

 

Q: What event are you racing in?

A: I'm racing in event 22, Men's Masters 8+, bow #8 with Riverside Boat Club. I'm excited to get on the course with my boat. We've had some great rows in the last few weeks. Our event may be a Masters event, but it is incredibly competitive with a dozen or so Olympians in various boats including Sir Matthew Pinsent in bow #1, a British four-time Olympic gold medalist and Bryan Volpenhein in bow #6 who won gold in Athens with the USA Men's 8+. Good competition makes for great racing! Go Stripes!

Q: Any insider tips for the Head of the Charles?

A: This is the best weekend of the year--go out and enjoy it! The Weeks footbridge near Harvard and the Elliot Bridge near the finish line are the best spots to watch the regatta (and occasionally you can see a good crash on those two turns). Head over to the finish line area (known as FALS) to check out the Expo tent full of good vendors and see all the different teams launching. Over 100 boat trailers are parked near the finish line and it's really great people watching.

My favorite thing to do regatta weekend is get out early--even before racing starts, get a coffee and walk around and enjoy the first few races before it gets too crowded. The first races on Saturday are the veteran singles--amazing men and women who have been racing for decades and Sunday morning are the para races (para is the new term for adaptive rowing). If you only have a few minutes to watch--the BU bridge is just a short walk from Simmons and if you stand on the downstream side (which is the side that looks over the BU boathouse), you can see the boats lining up and starting the race. Hundreds of boats in the Charles River basin, ready to start the race of their lives.

 

Photo Courtesy of Mason D. Cox Photography

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