TRAVERSE CITY — Six years after taking up the sport of rowing, Jamie Chapman is a national champion.
Chapman and Keziah Beall captured the elite women’s doubles class in the U.S. Rowing National Championships last Friday on Mercer Lake in New Jersey. The two surged to an early lead and won the 2,000-meter race by nearly three seconds.
It was a breakthrough victory for Chapman, a 24-year-old Traverse City native.
“I was in a crew that won the women’s quad at the Canadian Henley last year,” she said. “Up to that point (Friday), I thought that was pretty cool.”
This was even better.
Chapman and Beall — representing Vermont’s Craftsbury Sculling Center, which supports a team of current and hopeful Olympic rowers — were racing together for just the second time.
“She (Beall) just joined the team this year,” Chapman, a 2008 Traverse City Central graduate, said. “We’re a very compatible pair. We work really well together.
“As the bow person, my job is to match Keziah’s stroke — the rhythm and style — as best I can, and also to vocally be in charge of the boat. I make the calls, which happen more frequently than it might seem just watching a race. There are offensive and defensive strategies. It’s a huge mind game.”
Whatever strategies the two employed last Friday, they worked to perfection. The pair took the early lead and continued to build on it.
“There are many ways to control a race,” Chapman said, “but that’s definitely the most fun way.”
Chapman was a runner in high school. Lisa Taylor, her track and cross country coach, was the one who suggested she consider rowing at the collegiate level.
“I knew I wanted to play a sport,” Chapman said. “But I didn’t know anything about rowing.”