Leavens commits to Monmouth
It wasn’t love at first sight when Claire Leavens climbed into rowing a shell for the first time.
The Pelham resident had seen her older sister, Emma Leavens, succeed in the sport, so with the urging of her sister and family, went out with the E.L. Crossley summer program before entering high school.
“At the beginning, I wasn’t sure if it was for me,” Claire Leavens said. “It’s a lot of work but I persevered though that and now I’m enjoying the sport a lot.
“I’m happy to be able to do it.”
Fast forward four years and Claire Leavens is in her final few months of a decorated high school career and has her future mapped out after committing to Monmouth University on a rowing scholarship, where she will major in education.
“I went to visit Monmouth this past November. I enjoyed the encouraging and welcoming atmosphere at the school, team and coaches,” she said. “I also felt at home when visiting the school. I could really see myself there.
“I can’t wait to become a Hawk.”
Claire Leavens also considered Brock and Nipissing University before choosing Monmouth, a Division 1 school located in New Jersey.
“I thought about this school because it’s a new D1 program. I’ll be going into the second class of it so I thought that was really cool,” she said. “It’s a really good feeling to get it out (of the way) and now just enjoy that I’m pursuing rowing. I love the sport so much. Being out on the water, it feels like home when I’m rowing.
“It’s nice to be able to take it up to this level.”
Claire Leavens said the school made her a strong offer.
“They were able to offer me a pretty good one and were able to cover a lot of the athletic part of it and the grades as well.”
Claire Leavens is coming off a 2022 season that saw her win gold at Canadian Secondary Schools Rowing Association in women’s eight and women’s coxed four. She also competed at Canadian Henley and Head of the Charles and was seventh at the Ontario Indoor Rowing Championships March 2022. The 17-year-old, Grade 12 student is also a member of Crossley’s varsity girls hockey team.
She is gearing up for three indoor ergometer competitions before getting back on the water in March. She plans to row for Crossley at the CSSRA regatta this spring and participate at Henley before heading to school.
“A little bit of both,” she smiled when asked if she is excited or nervous about her new adventure. “It is a big deal going to New Jersey but it’s also exciting because the team was so welcoming and I enjoyed my visit when I was there.”
She will miss Crossley rowing coach John Ruscitti.
“I was very happy to row under Rucitti’s name because without him I wouldn’t probably be where I am.”
Ruscitti is thrilled to see Leavens, as well as fellow Crossley rower Malarie Jones, who has committed to Washington State University, move on.
“It’s great they have developed a passion for the sport and they want to go on and continue with it beyond high school and it’s always great to see the students-athletes be ambitious,” he said. “We encourage them to not only learn from the ones that have gone before them, but as they move up the ladder, to teach the ones behind them. It’s a great plus for that.”
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