Sac State Women’s Rowing Team ignites season-opening regatta at Lake Natoma


Laura De la Garza Garcia

Coxswain Zoie Kabir leads the Sac State rowing team across the finish line in the V8 race on Saturday, March 12. Sac State placed first against the University of Portland, St. Mary’s College and Santa Clara University.

Sacramento State’s women’s rowing team placed first in varsity 8 (V8) and second varsity 8 (2V8) on Saturday racing against St. Mary’s College, University of Portland, and Santa Clara University following a year-long absence from being in the water due to COVID-19 shutdowns. 

Rowers also placed third in varsity 4 (V4) against Humboldt State, St. Mary’s College, and University of Portland; and second in novice 4 (N4) against Santa Clara University, Humboldt State, and Orange Coast College. 

In 2021, the team had a relatively short season but managed to place 4th in the American Athletic Conference Championship according to the American Athletic Conference website.

Emma Doddridge is a freshman on the women’s varsity team majoring in health science at Sac State. Doddridge is a recruit from Vancouver School of Arts and Academics in Washington State where she was a sculler for her High School’s rowing team.

This season, Doddridge is the sixth seat in stern 4 of the 2V8.

Doddridge said it’s nerve-wracking to begin the 2K rowing season in a new position but she felt very confident in her team and how they would perform.

 “I think every team works really hard and everyone trains very hard, and it comes down to who wants it the most at the race,” Doddridge said. 

Doddridge is a part of the 2V8 which placed first in the regatta, beating the other teams by 20 seconds. 

“Seconds mean everything in rowing, so to have open water in front of the boat is a huge deal and it was really exciting to win a race that way,” Doddridge said.

Zoie Kabir is a communication studies major at Sac State who sits in the coxswain position for the women’s varsity team. 

According to Kabir, the team had a great start to the season with room for improvement. 

“The boats all placed really well and I could not have asked for more from my teammates, I was really proud with the results,” Kabir said. “Everyone went out there and gave it their all and it was overall a good season opener.”

According to Kabir, prior to the regatta,  the team had not raced in a year due to COVID-19. “I am excited! A little anxious but that is normal before a race.”

Kabir began her rowing career at Sac State four years ago when she was on the novice team as coxswain her freshman year. 

“I didn’t know what the sport was,” Kabir said. “I never played the sport, never raced in a boat.” 

It was not until freshman orientation that Kabir saw Coach George Jenkins at the rowing booth when she chose to give rowing a try. Since then, she has not looked back.

“I would not change this experience for anything in the world,” Kabir said.

Sac State Zoie Kabir (Left) and Helena Young (Right)laugh after their practice at Lake Natoma Friday, March 11. Both are co-captains for the rowing team this year.
(Laura De la Garza)

According to Kabir, the rowing team has only grown closer since the COVID-19  outbreak. 

“We had a lot of people opt out on us and some did not come back,” Kabir said. “We had a lot of people opt-in and choose to stay through a pandemic, through all the tough things everyone was experiencing and really worked hard.”

Helena Young is a fifth-year graduating senior at Sac State majoring in psychology and has been a part of the Sac State women’s rowing team for four years and sits as a port rower on the team.

According to Young, ever since she began rowing, she started listening to a 3-4 minute monologue from a well-known rowing coach on YouTube to pump her up for her races. 

“I have actually done this before every single race, even since high school,” Young said. “It is about taking everything inch by inch and I like to apply that to life, but also racing.”

This season is particularly special to Young, according to her, since it will be the last time she will be competing as a Sac State rower. 

“I want to take every single stroke not for granted and really love every second,” Young said. 

Before each competition day, the team huddles together for a pre-race talk. Young told her teammates to trust their fitness and trust in themselves as they get their season started. 

“I think people want it more and more each year,” Young said.  “We got so close to doing something special last year, and I think being that close to it makes people know that we have to do it this season.”

This year, the team has a full schedule and is preparing for their next regatta, the Hornet Invitational at Lake Natoma on March 19.