Phoebe Masterson-Eckart ’18

Phoebe Masterson-Eckart ’18 is one of the newest members of the Women’s Rowing team. While the real rowing season doesn’t begin until spring, the team has still entered into several fall races. Masterson-Eckart, in the position of Stroke Seat, led her Novice-4 boat to a win at the Head of the Snake race in Worcester at the beginning of October. Here’s a little more about this talented, focused first-year:

Phoebe Masterson-Eckart ’18

Sport: Women’s Rowing

Hometown: San Francisco

Alma Mater: The Urban School of San Francisco

Years Rowing: I have been rowing for four years, though an injury kept me from rowing with my club last season.

Why She Rows: It’s the ultimate team sport, but at the same time it’s the best way to be alone. I sit in the stern of the boat, and nothing feels better than looking out on the calm water. It’s also amazing to know that every stroke you take is for the person behind you. I’m a perfectionist, and I really value synchronicity. It also makes me feel strong: I have had a lot of injuries in the past, so it’s really cool to feel that strength. My mom rowed when she was younger too and it never really left her, so she taught me at a really young age.

Favorite Thing About Being a Camel So Far: Rowing for Conn has been really great. I come from California, and the crew culture is not super strong there. Crew is a much bigger deal in New England—it’s really validating to row on this coast. The people on the team are also so nice. We get up at 5:00 a.m. and practices are intense. Our team is more of a family than a team because of what we are going through together. Our coach, Eva Kovach, is amazing: she really instills in us a lot of pride about rowing for Conn. It’s also awesome to integrate the sport with my school. In California I was on a club team, so I didn’t see my teammates everyday. Here, practically half the team is in my chemistry class!

On the Water: Being in the middle of a race, is the most exciting and terrifying thing I can do. Every single muscle in your body hurts; you don’t have time to think about anything. My brain doesn’t believe that what my body is doing is possible. After a seven or eight minute race, I’m exhausted in the most satisfying way, and I’m usually wiped out for the rest day.

Pre-Race Ritual: I drink a half a bottle of water before every race to avoid dehydration. During the race, I always close my eyes, because even looking at something requires energy that can be used to row.

Post-Race Craving: I’m a fan of bagels! We would always have bagels after races in high school. I also really love to eat sliced bananas and peanut butter. But honestly, after a race, it’s just about any food you can get at all because you’re so wiped out.

First Competition: We left campus at 6:00 a.m. and that basically meant being up at 5:15 a.m. and trying to keep from waking up my roommates. On the bus there, tensions were really high because the weather was terrible all week and it was our very first race. We got to Worcester, and it was pouring rain at the Head of the Snake. We were racing in a line-up that we had only rowed in once before. It’s hard to race with a line-up you’ve only been in once, but the team is so close that we were able to make it work. After we won our race, we completely forgot about the rain because we were so ecstatic.

Amherst Invitational Regatta*: Because it was an invitational, there were only four teams there and it wasn’t as official as The Head of the Snake. It was really sunny, which is great weather for rowing. We also did a race for breast cancer awareness. We tied pink ribbons onto the boats and our jackets, and it was awesome to row for a cure. The proceeds went to Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center. We won the first and the third varsity-4 races at the invitational.

Hopes For the Season: The goal is to become better and stronger together as a team. We want to have fun, but we also want to win races; that’s the whole point. Another goal is, of course, to fall in love with the sport over and over again.

Fun Fact: I have sub-luxated my knee cap seven times (that basically means that I’ve partially dislocated my kneecap seven times). I’m also allergic to chocolate!

*Masterson-Eckart was not able to race at the invitational due to a knee injury. She will return with the rest of the team for the spring rowing season.