In the true spirit of Derryfield, Regina Salmons ‘14 only started rowing in the fall of 2010 because she wanted to try something new. As a student in the Derryfield Middle School, she had played soccer and tennis while skiing during the winter. Regina admits that she focused mainly on tennis and more than anything “really didn’t like running.” With that in mind, toward the end of 8th grade, a group of Upper School students spoke to Regina and her classmates about the athletic opportunities that awaited them the following year as 9th graders. She still remembers wanting nothing to do with running and hearing good things about rowing. So in the fall of freshman year, she joined the Derryfield crew program.
That decision has led her on a journey from the banks of the Merrimack River to Philadelphia, where she rowed for the University of Pennsylvania, and now to West Windsor, New Jersey where she will join a United States Olympic training group. Highlights along the way include gold medals in the Women’s Eight and Women’s Four at the 2016 U23 World Championships in the Netherlands and, most recently, in the Women’s Pair at the 2018 U23 World Championships in Poland.
During Regina’s sophomore year at Penn, the rowing program brought in a new coach, Wesley Ng, who had previously worked with the United States Under 23 squad. As the team began working with Ng, he encouraged Regina and one other rower on the team to apply to join the U23 training camp for the coming summer. Regina met the ergometer (or “erg” in rowing circles) score standards and was tall enough to apply so she moved forward with the strenuous application process which included a coach’s visit and video submission. In the end Regina was one of 30 rowers invited to the 2016 training camp.
The U23 World Championships in Rotterdam followed, where Regina was a part of two gold medal-winning boats in the Women’s Eight and Women’s Four. After two more years studying and competing at Penn, where she was selected as 1st team All-Ivy in 2017-2018, Regina rowed once again at this summer’s U23 World Championships, this time in Poznan, Poland. This time she and her teammate, Alina Hagstrom, took home gold in the Women’s Pair, besting the Great Britain women by 2 seconds in a time of 7:31.24 over 2,000 meters.
The main theme Regina emphasizes about her rowing career is the hard work and dedication required to be successful. The practice schedule and expectations of athletes competing at the Division I level is demanding, physically and mentally, to say the least. In addition to two-a-day practices on the water on many weekdays, weightlifting workouts were on the docket 3 times per week as well as a long practice on Saturdays. Regina says, “it’s not always about how talented you are. Beyond that it’s often more about time and commitment.”
She credits Derryfield for teaching her how to say focused and organized when balancing rowing and class at an Ivy League institution. She says, “Derryfield prepared me really well - I originally took some things for granted but Derryfield grounded me.” The School also taught her to “follow her passion” and to be open to growth.
So what’s next for her?
This fall Regina will join an Olympic Training group in West Windsor, NJ. She openly admits though “that it will be tough. I will be the youngest athlete at the training center. I want to take the opportunity to see how much farther I can be pushed.” She’s focused right now on the short-term but also knows that her rowing career won’t last forever and doesn’t want to take it for granted. At the training center she’s “really going for it and will be ready to claw and fight” her way to future success. Beyond rowing, Regina majored in English at Penn and has secured a part-time job in the legal field near the training center in NJ with an eye on law school or graduate school in the future.
Her words of advice to Derryfield students and young alumni: “Don’t be afraid to aim high. Someone has to win - why not you?”