Orth commits to Virginia
In Grade 10, Teagan Orth made an impressive debut at the Ontario Ergometer Championships.
“I had all the coaches telling me that I could really do something if I worked hard at it so I kept working at it because I wanted to see what would happen,” the Grade 12 student at St. Francis said. “Around June of that year, schools started to call me and I started to think that it could actually happen.”
It did indeed happen for the muscular six-footer, who verbally committed to the University of Virginia in April and will officially sign sometime in the fall.
“They were my dream school and I never thought they would offer me what I wanted. I was taken aback by that,” Orth said. “They have great coaches and they say they see a lot in me and that I have great potential.”
Virginia coaches have compared her with Governor Simcoe grad Morgan Rosts, who also rowed at Virginia and competed internationally for Canada.
“He (Virginia head coach Kevin Sauer) also told me character is a very important thing to him and I am always willing to work hard.”
Orth was supposed to visit Virginia but ended up having to do it virtually because of the COVID-10 pandemic. She also spoke to a couple of women already on the team.
She checked out Princeton, University of Tulsa, Louisville and Oklahoma before zeroing in on Virginia because of three factors.
“Obviously, it was the coaches. Kevin Sauer is one of four active hall of fame coaches and all the coaching stage there was super nice and super welcoming,” she said. “It is also a really good school and there was an article I read the other day that said it was the No. 2 public university in the country. Academics are important to me.”
She was also impressed with the team culture at Virginia.
“It is very competitive and it is a good place to get better.”
Orth has high goals for her future in rowing.
“The short-term goal for this year is to just get faster in general and be competitive for selection for the junior national team next summer,” she said. “I have two long-term goals. I want to win a national championship with Virginia and go to the Olympics someday.”
St. Francis rowing coach Liz Harold won’t be betting against her.
“Her goal is high — it’s the Olympics,” she said. “There is no doubt in mind that if she stays healthy and stays on the path that she is on now, she will be a proud Canadian for all of us.”
Orth has all the attributes to make that a red and white reality.
“She has a lot of passion and she’s pretty determined and competitive,” Harold said. “That combination along with her physique kind of brings it all together nicely.”
Orth is blessed with an excellent gene pool. Her father is 6-foot-5 and her mother is six feet tall.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Harold never got to see Orth on the water this spring. She did watch her make impressive strides in strength and technique through the winter
“Her erg scored has dropped a lot and it had dropped fast,” she said.
A lot has changed for Orth in the past year.
“I got involved with the Rowing Canada NextGen program and from there I have improved my strength,” she said.”They took me to Mexico to improve my sculling because before I was really into sweeping.”
Orth was training twice a day with NextGen coach Greg (Szykba) before she caught mono in June. She has been back on the water now for a few weeks and this week she will began training Ontario Academy of Rowing at the South Niagara Rowing Club in Welland.
It has been a mercurial rise for Orth, who took a learn to row program in Grade 8 but didn’t start rowing until her Grade 10 year of high school.
“I played basketball for five years before I started rowing and everyone was telling me that I should try rowing because I was tall. I told them I would give it a whirl.”
It was love at first whirl for Orth.
“It’s nice being outside all the time in the scenery and I like pushing the numbers and seeing how far I can push myself.”
In 2019, she and her teammates came fourth in the Canadian Henley final in a four and 16th at the Head of the Charles out of 84 coxed fours. This spring, she was second at the Ontario Ergometer championships and third at the Canadian erg competition.