2023 women's D1 rowing recruiting advice

D23 wants to row D1 and has been talking to coaches since fall 2021. She has cast a wide net including HYSPM, other T20s, and public universities.

Things seem to be going well. Two of HYSPM had her talk to multiple coaches, one other T20 ran an academic pre-read, and at least two publics are actively recruiting her. Her academics are competitive anywhere and her 2k is competitive for many programs (except the schools that target only very big and very fast girls).

Based on her unofficial visits, she would commit to one of HYSP today if she could, and they have been positive but noncommital. Otherwise, she would look to do OVs before making any decisions.

When is the right time to have more serious conversations with coaches about their interest, her commitment, and the financial side? Do coaches initiate this or the recruit? When should a recruit share that a program is their true first choice?

Thanks in advance for any advice!

I think @coffeeat3 might have an Ivy rower (though I might be misremembering).

My son – different sport – would tell coaches their school was “one of my top choices” for most of the recruiting journey. When it got down to the wire, and things shook out (he had offers from some schools, and knew which schools had less interest in him), and there was a clear first choice, that’s when he said “you are my first choice, and if you make me an offer I will accept on the spot”. But also, it was when my son had an “exploding offer” from another school and knew his 1st choice therefore had to make a decision-- they were either going to make him an offer, or they knew they would lose him to the school with the expiring offer.


Thanks Cinnamon! Exploding offers are tough for kids

@nonamemichigan - @cinnamon1212 has a good memory :slight_smile: My daughter was HS Class of 2021, so her recruiting experience may be different due to Covid, no regattas Spring of Jr year and all of senior year and no official visits.

She had an outstanding result at HOC in the Fall of 2019 (jr year) and that is when her list changed away from some programs and added more with a lot of coach attention at the event and team introductions/hang-outs.

She also took her ACT in the summer of 2019 and had her score by HOC plus strong grades, school elected leadership and a seasonal part time job. Here is what we learned and it may differ by area/experience:

Rowers mature at different rates - so there will be some that are not even on the the radar yet and will jump out at the summer programs including National team or Fall 2022 regattas. Coaches will be looking at regional results too with those occurring around the country now.

OV’s in the Fall determine a lot and most programs offer more OV visits vs slots. Research can tell you more about each school and if they offer 20 OV’s for 6 spots etc. The rowers we know that got OV’s off Covid years all happened after HOC.

Fit is important - all teams have different cultures and I recommend your daughter look at social media posts by teams. She will be spending 20-30 hours a week with the team - she needs to love the team and the school. She also needs to understand if majors are limited and classes during Spring season are limited - ie: no lab courses, some online, restricted majors. This varies by school. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT.

My daughter eliminated several Ivy programs and other larger high ranking D1 programs due to fit - both from her unofficial visits in Feb 21 (got lucky to get 7 of those in, as all shut down by Covid weeks later).

Her initial contact list was approx 20 programs - she was in communication with 19 of those coaches (Boston University is the only no reply) compared to Harvard replied to her within 2 hours of her initial inquiry - so a bit of a crap shoot :slight_smile: She refined the list to much smaller (and that is where my anxiety went through the roof) and by the summer and early fall of senior year was now only communicating with 5 programs. She reluctantly applied to 2 EA schools and our state flagship - pretty much forced by her amazing hs counselor.

She had pre-reads at all 5 - passed and then waited… She had officials via Zoom with 3 - the other two she dropped or they dropped her - both were not good fits (others on CC would disagree) and we are so impressed that she was able to really see school fit over name. With that said, she is at an Ivy - but one that fits her both academically and culturally.

She was told by one Ivy that they wanted her and asked her for confirmation that she would pick them - it was her top pick and she communicated that to the coach in August. As it got closer to submit an ED app - they went quiet. Buy stock in Kleenex! The school (where she ended up) was the most noncommittal in the upfront process and she took this as no interest - she tells us that it was always her #1 - but she kept it to herself, as she thought they were not going to make an offer based on their very robotic communication.

For your daughter, she seems like she is in a great place and from our experience - nothing is going to happen earlier than Fall. Academic pre-reads by admissions can not happen until after July 1st and that can take 2-3 weeks - so be prepared to wait. OV’s will be offered for the Fall - if she makes the short list.

It is also important to understand roster size - some of these schools have huge rosters - does she have a chance to get a boat freshman/sophomore or ever? You can learn a lot by going to each school’s roster and listed boat results. Do they cut ? She needs to be happy at the school if crew doesn’t work out.

Regarding financial - my daughter was never asked if we needed financial aid. She was told by coaches that offer $ estimated amounts she would receive in merit or sport $'s. $ never came up with the Ivy programs, but they do have financial aid calculators and imagine they expect parent’s to due diligence on affordability - there is zero sport/merit $ in this division.

I think we are in the minority - but we had zero involvement in the process except to “coach” her behind the scenes. We never were invited on a phone call (I do think her HS coach spoke to some of the programs), I sat in a coffee shop for all her unofficial visits (so maybe parents get face time at officials - I don’t know) and coaches never asked her to go get me :frowning: We just met the coaches a few weeks ago at a regatta !

Hopefully I answered some of your questions - my daughter is very private and not happy I reply on CC - I try my best to keep a few things vague to avoid identifying her.

My daughter is now part of the recruiting team for Zooms and OV’s - as several of the athletes felt they lost some people to other programs due to the coaches low key communication.

Lastly, your daughter should keep communicating and hopefully will be on the water this summer - an update to coaches a couple times this summer seems to be appreciated.

It sounds like your daughter is doing a great job managing the process and just be prepared for a stressful ride until the acceptance is in hand.

Good luck and enjoy this time too.

PS: I felt a little parent revenge (no clue if my daughter cares), as her boat beat the team that ghosted her after asking her if they were her top choice every time they raced this year.


One more thing and to me the most important - my daughter is happy, has an amazing friend group with the majority involved in crew, loves her classes and college experience. She will study abroad this summer as that is the only time that works with crew and plans on internships the other summers.

She has found her place and her people - so all my sleepless nights through the process and the high school social crap was worth it - as she stayed very true to herself and as I like to say “stayed in her own lane”.


Thank you @coffeeat3 for the thorough response! This is exactly what I hoped for.

We are doing the same, totally behind the scenes and letting her drive the process. There seems to be a lot of nuance in how the coaches phrase things and not sure how much is lost in translation between a 17 year old and the 20-something assistant coaches.

Congrats to your D on her success in college!

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You brought up an old memory for me: 30+ years ago I was in a fast boat out of Seattle. We had no attention from any of the schools “back east” because we were just so far away and the west coast wasn’t considered that great for rowing. The invitational camps weren’t interested in anyone in the boat either, and yet our times were terrific and we went off to USRA championships that summer to see what we could do.

We won each of our heats with open water over the national camp boats.

Uh oh…maybe we shouldn’t have pulled so hard in the heats - they must be holding back a lot and they’re probably going to walk right through us in the final. Maybe we screwed up our race plan, oh no…

Well in a wonderful Cinderella final, we won gold; 2.5 lengths over the closest national camp boat - the boat that was on it’s way to Worlds.

We all went home to Seattle, and I got a phone call from Brown the next week.


If by “financial side” you mean financial aid at Ivies and the like, you can ask coaches to have a financial aid pre-read done along with the academic pre-read (different department, so timing might not sync up exactly). That’ll be a complete review of your financial aid app and tax docs, so a very reliable estimate.

Be aware that Ivies will match each other on financial aid. HYP are generally best for aid, so the others will usually run a P or H or Y analysis if you’ve had recruiting interest or a FA estimate from from one of those. Cornell will match Stanford, MIT, Duke as well as other Ivies. Coaches will know how to deal with this. Some will want you to verify x# of contacts from coaches at those schools, others might want more.

If you are talking athletic scholarships, discussion of that might be a bit less straightforward. Often coaches will bring this up without nudging, but at some point over the summer it’d be fine for your daughter to slip in a question like, when do you make decisions about scholarships and does it seem like I might be in that pool…?

I find timeline questions- when do you usually make decisions about official visits, who to support, etc—usually yield pretty good info.

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A good friend of mine has a daughter who was a heavily recruited rower. My friend felt like it really came down to height and erg time. She may have misjudged but for D1 rowing she said it seemed very numbers driven. Vs say D3 (which they toyed with for a while) that seemed to care a bit more about rowing vs numbers. (I think a lot of coaches think they can fix anyones technique if they’re super tall and have the ability to push themselves to a breaking point erg time).

There’s also an old thread here that I found super helpful and shared with said friend about D1 rowing. It’s broken into three parts I think and is super detailed and knowledgeable.

Thanks all for the advice.

I have two follow up question on athletic scholarships/merit scholarships.

On the financial side, we are full pay, so the choice will be full pay at an Ivy/elite private or a merit or athletic scholarship elsewhere. We are careful with money, so a big scholarship could sway her from one program to another, but we are willing and able to go full pay too.

On athletic scholarships, is there any place to find data on the number of full scholarships offered? I understand funding for up to 20 scholarships per program, but those could be 20 full rides or 60 33% offers. It won’t make sense to do an OV at a program that cannot be competitive on scholarships and a 25-33% won’t cut it at an out of state public.

On merit scholarships, she will be competitive for merit at schools that offer it. Would merit be included if coaches offer a letter of intent or would they just share the athletic scholarship with merit coming later?

Thanks again for the help navigating through this. We aren’t using any rowing counselors, so trying to figure this out…

“Up to” being the operative phrase; many programs are not fully funded

The coach, if they’re forthcoming. How the money is divided likely varies by year, so historical data may not be helpful.


When my daughter had early unofficial visits and/or continued coach contact over email - she was told about money. Money was never brought up from an Ivy program. In all cases, she never asked.

The amount of merit and sport $ varied a lot - with one school saying “if she worked out” some $ would come only jr and sr year, another program said it would grow each year (guessing performance based) and programs with merit were open with a estimated merit number and still wishy washy about sport $.

I think they could all tell we were full pay - only guessing, but if she was looking beyond the highest ranked programs -there may have been more money to sway her ???

Regarding letter of intent - it is mainly verbal except for Ivy and a few others that offer a likely letter. It becomes official on national signing day - but again more show - in my opinion.

PS: I don’t know of anyone that used a rowing counselor. Your college counselor and your own research should be able to help make a balanced list both with and without crew.


Yes, at some schools merit stacks with athletic scholarships, but the coach can’t award a merit scholarship. It depends on the school when you would know about merit. Some schools have automatic scholarships based on stats, and for those you can make a good guess on what it will be. Daughter’s coach (different sport, but the school has a rowing program too) said "this will be her athletic award, and this ‘should be her merit award based on her stats.’ (of course the coach was wrong but we figured that out on our own).

Only you can decide if it is worth it to do an overnight at an OOS school. If you are full pay at HYP, the OOS with a scholarship and merit would be cheaper but may not be worth it to you. I’d suggest doing at least one to see if she likes that type of environment better than the Ivy.

There may be more money at less prestigious schools. At my daughter’s school, a D2, the Athletic director had been the rowing coach for many years, years when rowing was the biggest (maybe only) sport at the school. We all suspected that crew was fully funded while the other sports were not.


Yes, the “if she works out” is not going to work regardless of how good the rowing fit is, unless the school is Stanford, Duke, etc and we’d pay anyway. The good and bad of being full pay

oops - replied to wrong crew post :slight_smile: deleted response. :slight_smile:

regarding the BIG school
and big roster programs - have a clear understanding of cuts and chance of boat placement. You can look
at the historical data at each schools rowing page to help and can also see how many seniors are graduating each year.

You probably know this, but to keep that scholarship, she’ll need to keep rowing. Whether she likes it or not. Even if it keeps her from going abroad. And she can’t get hurt.

Merit, not linked to sports, will require a certain GPA. Easier to maintain…

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Thanks @gardenstategal.

Yes, merit aid would be ideal, but seems extraordinarily competitive for schools like Duke, Notre Dame, Virginia, Michigan, Cal, UNC, etc. that have rowing + very strong academics + merit aid.

She isn’t interested right now in schools that would offer high merit like Oklahoma, Tulsa, Dayton, Indiana, Alabama, Michigan State, etc. USC and SMU might fit the criteria, but she isn’t interested in either unfortunately

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Not my area of expertise, but I think scholarships are 4 year at P5 schools now, maybe elsewhere. S went to an Ivy, but was told at a Big Ten school and an ACC school that his scholarship would be good for 4 years. At least at the Big Ten school, they said if he got injured he would actually move off of their roster to free up scholarship space from an NCAA point of view but the university would then put him on a full “football” scholarship. Which is actually a better deal for an equivalency sport athlete. Since he didn’t pursue this route I never saw the fine print.

Obviously this won’t apply if you just quit. But I think if it’s due to a career ending injury they let you keep the scholarship. Definitely something to look into though. Don’t rely on what a coach trying to make a sale told me three years ago.

scholarships at D1 /P5 schools CAN be given for the 4 years, but yes, you have to keep playing. Some of them do allow you to stop playing, even leave the school, and still be able to return and do the final two years (you have to play through sophomore year), but I think it is tuition only.

Many honorable coaches kept injured players on the teams, and sometimes the NCAA allowed an extra scholarship to ‘replace’ that injured player. The current coach of the National Championship DU hockey player came to DU on a hockey scholarship as an 18 year old. He didn’t pass his physical and in fact had a career ending heart condition. DU honored the scholarship and made him a student coach. The NCAA allowed the team an extra scholarship for those 4 years. Paid off for the school too as he stayed with the school and now he brought them a championship.

Things are going to change SO MUCH now with NIL. Some teams are getting contracts, even if it is only free pizza for defensive line. Others are sponsored by local businesses, scholarships can be supplemented with NIL for the team, individually, through merchandise signings, etc. OH, SMU alums are rolling over in their graves. The rules are just taking shape and who knows what an athletic scholarship will look like in 2, 3, or 5 years? Even the big boys of the SEC don’t have any idea how to control it.

D has 4 official visit offers with 2 more likely based on coaches comments, so 6 likely OVs. She’d be VERY happy rowing for 3 of these schools - 1 offered and the 2 likely. She would consider the other 3 if they offered a full scholarship or if the top 3 fell through. Those 3 have asked for an answer ASAP.

But, there are another 4 programs she would like to visit if OVs are offered, but the coaches have been vague or asked her for a slightly better 2k time. One of those programs hasn’t replied to any emails yet, but other rowers have said they recruit late and mostly in senior year.

How much confidence should she have in the 2 coaches who have said OVs are likely but haven’t offered yet? How many spots should she leave open for schools that would offer OVs in July or August? Not sure if the best OV offer come early, or come later in the process… Thanks!