Hutchison a Positive Leader On the Water for Guilford Crew
Rowing is a very unique sport in that it really takes every member of the boat to compete well in order to put out successful race numbers as a team. Hailey Hutchison is no stranger to this sentiment, as she has proven to be a strong and valuable asset to the Guilford crew team.
The senior captain grew up around the sport and decided she wanted to give it a try upon entering high school, working every day since then to improve.
“My father was a rower in high school and at Georgetown, and I always wanted to try it. One of my fellow captains and I decided to sign up together at the start of high school. It’s fun to see how far we’ve come.”
Outside of the high school team, Hailey also gains experience rowing for an outside club, enhancing her technique and making her a more well-balanced rower.
“In addition to rowing for the Guilford High School crew, this past summer and fall, I rowed for Blood Street Sculls, a highly regarded club in Old Lyme,” Hailey says. “While rowing for Blood Street, I learned to row in small boats, including single sculls where the athlete rows with two oars versus a single oar, which is sweep rowing.”
Hailey had the opportunity to row with the Blood Street at a few prestigious races this past fall, including the Head of the Charles and Head of the Schuylkill. She mentions that these are experiences that she will never forget.
Guilford crew Head Coach Matthew Wilson has seen Hailey make a major impact on her teammates by being a good role model and giving it her all day in and day out.
“Since the beginning, Hailey has come to each practice and race with the same positive attitude. When I introduce rowers to the crew team, I ask for three things: one, giving 100% effort; two, row and practice with a positive attitude; and three, focus at all times,” says Wilson. “Hailey has done all of those things since day one. She never takes a practice off. Her lead by example has been noticed by her fellow rowers, and as a result, they have followed her lead.”
Hailey is one of five captains on the coed team and now sits at the starboard (right) position in the varsity seven seat. Prior to this year, she was rowing port before making the transition. Despite the natural challenge that came with having to learn to row in a different position, Hailey took it in stride and has been able to adapt while helping her team in a different way.
“This spring, I am rowing starboard in the varsity seven seat. This was a big change for me because I had been rowing port up until now,” says Hailey. “It has been a little bit of a learning experience, but I really enjoy rowing in the stern pair and helping to set the pace for our boat.”
The Grizzlies competed against East Lyme in their first race of the season, and even though it didn’t go as planned for Guilford, Hailey still managed to focus on the positive in the situation, something that’s very much a strength of hers.
“It was a very good East Lyme team, and unfortunately, they outperformed us that day. Both teams had to compete with terrible weather and pouring rain,” says Hailey. “They got the best of us and we are looking forward to facing them at the end of the season at states.”
The varsity team for the Grizzlies is a mix of seniors, juniors, and sophomores this season, all with different levels of experience. Being one of five captains, Wilson sees Hailey as the go-to girl for team motivation and building up everyone’s confidence.
“Hailey is one of the first rowers to show up on a daily basis. She is always one of the first people to volunteer to help and is always willing to assist her teammates in honing their rowing skills. Rowing is not an easy sport, and it is truly a team sport. Hailey shares her rowing techniques and methods with all rowers,” says Wilson. “She doesn’t force it on anyone but suggests that her techniques might improve the rowers’ results in reducing times or increasing rowing strokes. She is always verbally encouraging and motivating rowers to instill confidence and to maximize their performance.”
Hailey also mentions that she is a firm believer in leading by example while also trying to motivate her teammates with a positive attitude. She notes that success in each race depends on how well the team can work together.
“During the winter, I aim to be the hardest worker on the erg. On the water this spring, I work closely with my co-captains to keep the other rowers focused,” says Hailey. “The weather in New England doesn’t give us much time on the water before racing, so every minute we are out on the water for practice, it is important that we make the most of it.”
One of the biggest challenges that comes with this sport is being a novice rower and being put into a varsity boat. For Hailey, this was a challenge when she first started, however, she was able to overcome it and work extra hard to solidify her spot and provide immediate value.
“She was rowing with girls that had rowed for a few years that had experience and knowledge of the techniques and skills necessary to row at the varsity level. She was just starting her rowing career, but to her credit, she did not back down. She embraced the challenge. Hailey listened to her coaches and the information they provided,” says Wilson. “Each day in the boat and at every practice, she improved her rowing techniques and methods to maximize her performance. She constantly pushed herself to improve her understanding of the rowing techniques and strength necessary to help her boat succeed.”
Despite how nervous Hailey was about making the transition to the varsity boat, she gained confidence along the way from her peers and, over time, was able to collect guidance from her coaches to help ease her nerves.
“During my sophomore year, I was brought up to the varsity boat and remember being nervous about how I would compare to the others. Recognizing the fluidity of a boat lineup and the built-in competition was also a challenge,” says Hailey. “Rowing is such a mental sport that these moments can be tough, but I think of the encouragement given to me by the upperclassmen I got to row with, and I strive to do the same when I sense anyone is feeling uneasy.”
As Hailey rows in her final campaign on the water with the Grizzlies, Wilson looks forward to seeing her have a breakout year and continue to lead her team like she always has. Hailey came into the spring having worked hard on her strength and conditioning, which are critical components to being successful.
“She has developed into an important rower in the boat. Watching her row at her maximum level and to be a leader in the boat will help all other rowers be successful,” says Wilson. “She has the skills and techniques necessary to help her boat reach each race goals. In addition, she is now a captain that is respected and who has experience and knowledge that can be shared with others.”
Hailey looks forward to building off of the success that she and her team had last year, as well as having new enthusiasm and energy in the boat. She plans to row at Wesleyan University at the Division III level next year after graduating from Guilford High School.