By Terry Jacoby/weloveannarbor.com; photos by Tina Brinkel
Molly Maloy had spent a good part of her early life on a dance floor and admits she was looking to tango to a different beat by the time she got to high school – or in this case, row to a different beat. So she put away her dancing shoes and headed down to the river (sounds like a Bruce Springsteen lyric).
“I was a dancer for 10 years before high school, and I was getting really burnt out near the end of middle school and wanted to try something new,” says Maloy. “My mom heard about rowing and suggested I try it. It was the perfect sport for me to join because everyone was brand new to it. It wasn’t like if I tried to join soccer where everyone had been playing since they were 3.”
And while Maloy was “brand new” to rowing, she didn’t perform like a fish out of water. In fact, she picked up things pretty quickly.
Now a senior at Community High and named one of the captains for this year’s Pioneer HS varsity crew team, Maloy remembers some of her early challenges getting in the boat with a new sport.
“I was really out of shape when I first started,” she says. “I couldn’t run a mile without stopping. I also got horrible blisters due to me gripping the oar too hard.
“However, I eventually got more in shape and learned how to hold the handle correctly. I really liked that it was all about performance, not appearance, when I compared it to dance. I also really appreciated that it was more team-focused than dance.”
Maloy won the Female Novice of the Year Award as a freshman and then took fifth place in the First Varsity Four as a sophomore at the Midwest Championships. Last year as a junior, she took first place in the First Varsity Eight as a junior at the State Championships, was awarded a Golden Hammer for her 2k time and took fourth in the Senior Eight at the Canadian Championships.
Maloy is what is called a “port rower,” which means the oar is on the right side of her body. “I can get kind of sore and uneven from all of the one-sided motion, so I do a lot of stretching to try to balance my body out,” she says. “I usually sit in the front seat of the boat, which means I have to try to keep a steady rhythm for everyone to follow.”
Maybe Maloy’s dance training helped her find the rhythm.
After having such great success in her first three years with Pioneer, Maloy was looking forward to getting into the boat one last time this spring as a senior. But, suddenly, the world changed.
She admits that not being able to compete this spring has been difficult.
“We had the largest and fastest team we’ve had in all four years that I’ve been in the program, and everyone worked really hard indoors all winter with our sights set on the spring,” she says. “It’s really upsetting to not be able to have a single race to show all that hard work. However, I am proud of the work that we put in and I know that it will show in the future.”
And she certainly feels the small sacrifices are worth the bigger picture.
“While it is devastating to lose the end of my senior year, it pales in comparison to the lives that are being saved while we shelter in place,” she says. “I really miss school and my friends. However, I am not having any trouble staying busy as I am babysitting and taking Calc II at Washtenaw Community College online.
“We are also having online crew zoom meetings and workouts to keep the team connected in this time.”
Molly, the daughter of Jill and Barney Maloy, has been quite successful on shore as well. She has a 3.962 GPA and was a member of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space at Community and the Youth Advisory Council for the Youth Volunteer Corps at the YMCA.
She will continue her education in the fall at the University of Michigan College of Engineering. “I plan on studying either Mechanical or Aerospace Engineering, and I am also planning on walking on to the rowing team.”
Studying engineering and playing a sport at U-M would be quite the two-step, but Maloy certainly has proven she has the moves to pull it off. And while she is looking forward to her future, she will always remember her past.
“I’m going to miss the team aspect of rowing the most,” she says. “Rowing is the definition of a team sport, as everyone in the boat has to move at the exact same time in order to get the fastest boat possible. The collaboration and teamwork that goes into making that happen really brings us closer together and I’ve made some of the best lifelong friends along the way.”
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