Three dynamic captains. Two successful programs. One storied name.
For the 2008-’09 Radcliffe senior captains—heavyweights Liz Demers and Anna Kendrick, along with lightweight Rebekah Kharrazi—it’s as easy as one, two, three.
And this weekend, the big three will be leading their respective crews at the Head of the Charles, looking to start off their tenures with success.
“It will be an indication for us to see how we’re doing, set the stage for the next year,” Kharrazi said. “We want to be better than we have [been] in the past and keep going.”
Kharrazi will serve as the lone captain for new coach Heather Cartwright’s lightweight squad. A four-year rower, Kharrazi has the experience and skill the coach was looking for when she took the Radcliffe job.
“She has a maturity and a composure, a love of rowing, and enthusiasm to include everyone. She displays everything I would look for in a captain,” Cartwright said. “I’m lucky to have a captain in Rebecca—I think she’ll be the standard by which all other captains will be compared.”
Words like experience and know-how get thrown around frequently in the world of sports. Each team has its own standout senior, with enough talent, acclaim, medals, and awards to go around.
But in lightweight rowing, Kharrazi is truly a step above. She joined Radcliffe as a freshman, inexperienced in the world of collegiate rowing. She left her first year stroking the varsity eight—an unprecedented feat in the lightweight program.
In the academic arena, it’s more of the same. This time last year, she was not able to compete at the Head of the Charles. But it was not injury, fatigue, or a test that precluded her involvement. She was 4000 miles away, in Ethiopia, excavating at the site of the “Lucy” skeleton—the key discovery in the search for the “missing link.”
After she returned from her semester abroad, she hit the water stroking. The senior has not missed a beat, and this year, with a deep, talented crew, she is poised to reach new heights—while never forgetting to have fun.
“My priority is to have a good time—to make sure everyone has the ability to work really hard, but to have fun doing it,” Kharrazi said. “To go fast, but have fun doing it.”
On the heavyweight side, two dynamic and seasoned captains are prepared and ready to lead the team to the next level.
For this group of heavyweights, that means the national championship. Under the leadership of co-captains Liz Demers and Anna Kendrick, any boat is within reach.
Returning as captain, Demers brings a trained eye and an experienced tone to the captainship.
The Massachusetts local helped to bring poise and unity to a team that saw a win in the Petite Final of NCAA competition last year.
“I’m able to see what [worked] last year, what will work this year,” Demers said. “We want to, together, to focus on leading by example, to work hard, and support each other.”
Four years ago, Kendrick brought with her to Harvard numerous national accolades, with some even coming from her high school success at past Head of the Charles events.
Both leaders are eager to bring the heavyweight crew into top form physically, but mentally, they also want to inject the team with enthusiasm and spirit. In the process, they hope to leave behind a strong team for years to come.
“We want to bring an excitement about racing at this high of a level. We work so hard all year, and this is our time to put it on the line, have everyone ready to go, excited,” Kendrick said. “We want to build the strength from the freshmen up, it’s a really about being strong top down.”
Senior Esther Lofgren also returns after taking two years off to train for the Olympics. After narrowly missing the Olympic team, Lofgren will add a big gun to the already daunting Black and White varsity eight. Combining with the Demers-Kendrick dynamic duo, the crew now has big plans for the year to come.
“We have two really great captains for the heavyweights, and they’re doing a great job,” Lofgren said. “I’m happy to support them with any technical know-how, and I’m happy to bring all I can to this strong team that is already here.”
—Staff writer Walter E. Howell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. —Staff writer Elizabeth A. Joyce can be reached at email@example.com.