March 10, 2014
DALLAS (SMU) – When she started her career at Plano Senior High School, Mackenzie Daly didn’t know she wanted to row in college, but the freshman mechanical engineering major has had a very successful season thus far.
“I played volleyball all throughout high school and started rowing after my senior year when I got recruited,” Daly said.
Accomplished in the sport, Daly helped her team to a successful state tournament run during her senior year. However, after playing volleyball nearly her whole life, Daly said she just couldn’t find the right school that would combine her love of the sport with the right academic and social environment. That was until she visited SMU.
“I knew I wanted to play a sport in college, but with volleyball I couldn’t really find the right school,” Daly added. “I really liked SMU so when I had the opportunity to go here and play a sport I really wanted to do that. The school really had good athletic and academic programs, which really appealed to me.”
At that point, her desire to involve herself in athletics in college shifted from a volleyball focus to the SMU rowing team. Daly sites it as a smooth transition, but it didn’t come without hard work.
“They’re both definitely hard, but rowing is more endurance based,” Daly said. “I feel like it’s a lot like volleyball, but harder in its own ways. Rowing is a lot of power and endurance so you have to train both aspects.”
Perhaps more stressful than actual competition, one could wonder how those around her, who have been rowing for years, would welcome someone on the team who has little to no experience entering the collegiate ranks.
“Everyone’s been really supportive,” she said. “If I didn’t know how to do something, or was just having trouble with a certain aspect of rowing, the team would definitely help me or be supportive. The team is always there to help me and motivate me.”
An ally on the team for Daly has been Rebekah Tate. Tate, a sophomore also from Plano, Texas, is in her second season as part of the rowing team after a decorated high school basketball career.
A year-round AAU athlete, Tate helped John Paul II Senior High School to a state final appearance during her junior season and a final four trip during her senior year.
Tate credits her transition to rowing to her grandfather, who introduced her to the sport and SMU.
“I didn’t start taking rowing lessons until Christmas break of my senior year and didn’t get back on the water until a ‘learn-to-row’ camp the summer before I started at SMU.”
The ease in transition from multiple sports into rowing at SMU is a testament to student-athletes like Tate, those who have dedicated many years to the sport and the Mustangs’ coaching staff.
“It was great to get to know other rowers who were new to the sport,” Tate said. “We train together and it’s really helped me to be with people who were in the same position I was in.”
After having a season under her belt, she was more than willing to lend a helping hand to those who needed it.
“I really encouraged them and told them the first semester of rowing is hard. Your body is not used to the new muscles that you’re using and it’s painful. I just really encouraged them to stick to it because I wasn’t sure after my first semester of my future in rowing because it is so hard, but once you get it you get it and it’s so much fun.”
There is no doubt that Daly has “gotten it”. As part of a freshman 8+ crew, she has helped SMU garner a pair of first place finishes at the Head of the Oklahoma and Head of the Colorado. The Mustangs also registered a third place finish in their final fall race at the Head of the Hooch.
“It’s been really exciting to win,” Daly said. “After our first race we didn’t know how we did, but once we got back to the dock the coaches told us we got first place. We were so excited that all of our hard work had paid off.”
After months of offseason training, Daly is ready to get back on the water.
“I’m excited for spring season because it’s more sprint pieces, and there are more races that are even more competitive.”
The Mustangs kickoff the spring season at home hosting Creighton on Friday and Canisius on Saturday at White Rock Lake. For more information on the SMU rowing program visit SMUMustangs.com, follow the Mustangs on Twitter (@SMURowing) and like them on Facebook (/SMURowing).