By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
---- — SELINSGROVE -- Four years after being introduced to the sport of rowing, Selinsgrove high school senior Madeleine Troppe has earned a scholarship to row at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
According to the officers at the Central Pennsylvania Rowing Association, Troppe is the first student from the area to sign with an NCAA Division I rowing team.
Troppe is a multi-sport athlete, having played three years of field hockey, basketball and lacrosse for the Seals.
"The summer before my freshman year, I took a learn-how-to-row class that the CPRA (located on the Susquehanna River on Route 11 in Shamokin Dam) offered, and I liked it," she said. "I kept going to row when I had the opportunity to."
This past year, with the CPRA offering fall rowing, she dropped field hockey and basketball to concentrate on rowing, but she will play lacrosse in the spring.
"It was pretty much the fact that I could row this fall and since I had more of a future in rowing, I stuck with that," she said. "It's the sport I love the most."
One of her coaches at CPRA, Brian Tomko, noticed Troppe's ability for the sport from the first day they met.
"She struck me as someone who is athletic and the thing that most impressed me was her willingness to try new things outside of her comfort zone and she's a hard worker," he said. "She does not shy away from hard work."
Tomko is the former rowing coach at Susquehanna University as he is one of the coaches of the youth program at CPRA. Current Crusaders rowing coach Jim Grose worked with Troppe this fall, along with Derek Updegraff, as the club offered fall rowing for the first time.
While she is an undecided major at this point, Troppe knew that Duquesne was the right fit for her.
"When I visited there this fall, I knew it was the right place for me," said Troppe, daughter of Thomas and Melissa Troppe.
According to Troppe, there are four other kids at Selinsgrove High School, including her brother, Max, a freshman, who also rows.
The rowing club is not affiliated with the school and it draws kids from area schools including Shikellamy and Lewisburg. Troppe rows the doubles with fellow Seals' senior Emily Spiegel. The two have been paired together for the past two years. In the quad boat, Troppe rows with Spiegel, Anne Coyne, a junior at Selinsgrove High School and Caroline Vandivere, a junior at Lewisburg.
According to Troppe, the position in the boats are named by the numbers of the seats.
"You have one seat up to four seat, and the four seat is referred to as the stroke seat, and that's where I sit in the quad boat; and in the doubles boat, it is the two seat," she said. "The job of those seats is to set the stroke rate or rhythm for the boat.
"I think generally to be in the stroke position, you have to have a steady rhythm for other people to follow," she added.
Troppe, who is 6-foot, noted that a lot of rowers are tall and that they work out on land as well as rowing four to five times a week for about two hours a day.
"Madeleine had progressed tremendously," Tomko added. "Their first race, it was rough as they were rowing against other kids who have been rowing for years. But this past summer, the boat she was in did extremely well against kids who have full scholastic programs and row all year."
Troppe and her boat came in second in their flight at the Philly Youth Regatta this past summer. The previous year, they placed 40th out of 42 boats. They also finished in the upper half of the standings this summer at the Kings Head Regatta on the Schuylkill.
"There's a quality about Madeleine's willingness to row and push herself through those limits that will help her get a spot on the Duquesne team," Tomko added. "She puts in a lot of work and she's more interested in the boats' results and not her own personal success."