Tough to say which was more difficult for Grace Odell, the physical or the emotional part of not being able to be one of the girls in the boat.
The 2019 Rochester Century graduate and Rochester Rowing Club member has fallen deeply for the sport. That started with Odell’s introduction to it as a sophomore. Her passion for it has ramped up every year since.
For most of 2018, though, there was no rowing for Odell. There was too much pain for that, which finally led to the diagnosis of a torn labrum in her hip and surgery in September.
“At first, I though it was just a torn muscle,” said Odell, who first took notice of the pain in March of 2018.
Odell initially tried a couple of months of rest then, before painfully getting back in he boat for a chunk of the summer. Finally, the pain was too much.
So she waived the white flag and went under the knife, her doctor shaving down the bone in her femur to make things fit.
Then came the most awful part of this entire ordeal. The waiting game.
“(Following surgery), it was really frustrating because I was laying in bed for a week while my teammates were racing in Philadelphia,” Odell said.
She spent the next seven months waiting and rehabbing, and waiting and rehabbing. That went on until the last week of March when — finally — she was green-lighted to start rowing again.
“I was so excited to be getting back to it,” Odell said. “I missed being at practices and with the team so much.”
There would be plenty more to be excited besides being in the presence once again of such Rochester Rowing Club teammates as fellow 2019 graduates Sophie Truesdale (Mayo) and Tori Dettinger (Lourdes), and Century incoming-sophomore Siri Koplin.
At the top of that list is what they achieved together.
First came their accomplishment at the Midwest Junior Championships, May 18-19 in Bethel, Ohio. The foursome of Odell, Truesdale, Dettinger and Koplin finished third in the quad portion of the competition. That was just good enough to advance them to the Youth National Regatta in Sarasota, Fla.
It was a first for all four of the Rochester rowers and had them literally leaping for joy. When Odell was a sophomore, her boat finished fourth, one spot from qualifying for nationals.
“I was so excited that I started crying after we found out (they’d advanced),” Odell said. “And once we all got on land, we were all jumping up and down. It was really exciting.”
Rochester Rowing Club coach Caleb Schuder said that the ultra-competitive Odell played a primary role in advancing the team to nationals.
“We’ve got her in a spot on the boat where she sets the tone for us; she is the leader of the boat,” Schuder said. “Her competitive nature is why we have her in that spot. She’ll never back down. When she’s tired, she’s not going to slow down or take strokes off. That’s the competitiveness in her that everyone needs to follow.”
Odell and her team brought all of that will and drive with them to Sarasota, Fla., last week.
There, they produced more good stuff. Odell, Truesdale, Dettinger and Koplin combined to finish 18th out of 25 teams in the Youth National Regatta.
They did that and had the experience of a lifetime.
“It was so cool to experience going down there and racing against the best teams in the nation,” Odell said. “But I’m proud of did there, matching up against the other boats.”
That won’t be end of Odell’ racing in the big time. Beginning this fall, she will be a member of the University of Minnesota rowing team. Truesdale will continue rowing, too, at Portland (Ore.) University.