Golden achieves final victory
Senior worked hard to win crown all four years of college
INDIANAPOLIS -- As a freshman in 2010, Dana Golden rowed in the Varsity 8 to help Williams to its fifth NCAA Division III Rowing title in a row. Then its sixth. And seventh.
As a senior this year, she helped earn the championship trophy for the Ephs for the eighth consecutive year and the fourth and final time of her collegiate career.
Despite Williams’ dominant streak, the past four years for Golden and the Ephs have not been easy.
“The team has changed a ton since I was a freshman,” Golden said. “Since I’ve been here, there have been three head coaches. We had Justin [Moore] and then Brad [Hemmerly] and now Kate [Maloney]. I remember Justin saying that one of the tests of him leaving was to see if this is a program or if this [is] a coach.”
Thankfully, it was a program and the talent and heart remained.
“The team has been just unbelievable and resilient. We’ve had to be flexible,” Golden said. “We can’t just keep doing the same thing; we had to figure out how to do new things because everyone’s getting faster.”
Division III competitors continued to step up their games, which was evidenced by the tight finish in Saturday’s V8 grand finals. Bates lagged behind the Ephs by less than two seconds for the majority of the race.
“We had some amazing competition this year -- we lost [some] and that was awesome.” Golden said. “It was awesome for us to really work for it. It was honestly such an amazing, amazing way to finish, to have a race that close. That was a hard race. We really worked hard and Bates, they were right there. They were not going to give it to us.”
With Golden up front, the V8 pushed the last 250 meters to prevent the Bobcats from catching up, in clinching the Ephs’ ninth title overall with 42 team points.
“[Dana] stroked the boat this year and it was beautiful to watch. If she wanted to go, that boat went,” Maloney said. “She’s been sort of the emotional and physical center of the team this year along with our other captain, Kat Amano. Just stellar physical leadership, a really good person to talk to, very level-headed, but a consummate racer.”
Despite winning all four years of her time at Williams, this championship has been unique for Golden.
“Every year I knew I was part of it, but this year I realized so much more that it wasn’t for me, it was for the team and for the people coming behind me,” Golden said. “I think freshman year was awesome -- I got to be included in something really amazing and I’m just really happy that I could finish it out this way. It’s the same outcome, but it feels different every year.”
Golden is happy to be handing reigns to some of her very capable teammates.
“We have an awesome freshman class this year, a lot of walk-ons, and we needed them,” Golden said. “They really stepped up and took really important roles. I’m so excited to watch what this team is going to do.
“The stroke of the 2V is a freshman and she’s going to be a great competitor next year. The junior class, they have so much to offer both physically and leadership-wise. Our coxswain, Anna Hopkins, is a junior and she’s huge in terms of bringing boats together, bringing the team together.”
For her head coach, the legacy of the six seniors, including Golden, drove their focus all season and powered them in crunch time at the national championships.
“The entire senior class came from under the shadows of a very powerful senior class before them, so they had to do a lot of defining of what they wanted and holding themselves to those expectations,” Maloney said. “They thought about who’d come before them and what they’d done before and how they could improve on that. They took it to task and worked hard and tried to do a little bit more than what’s been done before.”
The tradition of striving for more is a lesson that was passed down to Golden and a value she hopes to impart now that her time at Williams is done.
“You can always find more, both physically and emotionally and mentality,” Golden said, “both for yourself and as a boat and as a team. The most powerful thing to drive me is the love and respect that I have for my teammates. Trusting them is so much more powerful than focusing on what’s going on with other boats or other teams or what happened in previous seasons. That is the strongest thing.”