Lofgren's Journey Ends With Gold
For Esther Lofgren ’07-’09, success cannot be defined without first experiencing failure.
In 2007, the former All-American Radcliffe heavyweight rower took a year-long leave of absence, hoping to land a seat on the Olympics team in Beijing. But whereas Lofgren dominated her collegiate competition, the 6’3’’ rower found herself falling behind her peers.
“The training and competitiveness of the squad were much more rigorous than they’d been the other years I’d tried out for the team,” Lofgren wrote in an email to The Crimson. “It was very humbling to go from being considered reasonably fast in college, and even on the previous national teams, to seeing my name at the bottom of every results sheet. But I kept pushing myself, got fit, and didn’t give up. I ended up getting ‘called up’ when a couple of girls got injured late in the season.”
And though Lofgren did not claim a starting seat on the Olympic eight boat in Beijing, she came back to her Radcliffe team even more motivated to succeed.
“She really put a lot of effort into that run,” said former Radcliffe heavyweight captain Christine Baugh ’10. “It was difficult for her to be so close and fall slightly short, but she came back even more determined than ever. Not only did she improve herself, she came back to Harvard and Radcliffe to make our team better. She was so selfless, and she really brought everybody up and coached everybody to become better.”
As a member of the U.S. rowing team that won the gold medal in the eight at last week’s World Rowing Championships, Lofgren will now set her sights on the biggest prize in all of sports: Olympic gold.
FAST TIMES AT NEWPORT HARBOR HIGH
Even with parents who were both elite rowers, Lofgren’s first love was volleyball.
The former volleyball star attended Newport Harbor High in Newport Beach, Calif., a school well known for churning out volleyball talent such as April Ross and Misty May.
“Besides height, I didn’t really have any of the natural gifts that many of the other players did, although I had a ton of determination,” Lofgren wrote. “If I didn’t have the best vertical, I made up for it by practicing my serve for hours every afternoon.”
While some schools recruited Lofgren to play volleyball, her parents’ past eventually caught up with her, and Lofgren began to look more closely at rowing.
“The first day I went down to the boathouse with my best friend to try out the sport he’d just started and was so excited about, I was pretty much hooked from the beginning,” Lofgren wrote.
STEPPING STONES ON THE WATER
With rowing now the main priority, Lofgren joined the Radcliffe heavyweights as a rower with a unique blend of height, strength, rowing genes, and work ethic. Despite finishing sixth at the 2003 US Youth Rowing Invitational, Lofgren considered herself relatively unpolished.
“[Coach] Liz O’Leary [and] assistant coaches Cory Bosworth and Kate Woll helped me navigate the things I wanted to accomplish both with my studies and in the sport,” Lofgren wrote. “Although I’d learned to row in high school, I learned how to actually move a boat while at Radcliffe!”