Emily Ford & Oregon State Women's Rowing

By Sparks Editorial Staff | July 7, 2016

Corvallis is home to Oregon State University and is a playground for the outdoor enthusiast. The OSU research forest has dozens of miles of trails, for running, hiking, and mountain biking. Corvallis is located about an hour drive from the mountains and the coast. It is a highly educated community, home to more people per capita with advanced degrees than any other town in the country.

Similar to Corvallis, the OSU athletic department has a unique culture. There is a strong sense of connection between athletes across sports. After morning practice teams eat breakfast with athletes from different sports. Relationships develop from all-athlete community service projects, leadership councils, and special interest clubs. The athletic department sponsors social events throughout the year, such as a spring break talent show. Close relationships across sports help to create a unified student athlete culture at OSU.

Oregon State University calls the culture, "Beaver Nation," after the mascot Benny the Beaver. "Every single person who does something good - opens a door for somebody else, reinvents technology, picks up a piece of garbage - is part of Beaver Nation."

Oregon State Women’s Rowing gained varsity statues in 1977, just ten years after the men, becoming one of the first varsity women’s rowing programs in the nation.

Head Coach Emily Ford strives to elevate the rowing team with the culture of competitiveness. The team has placed 7th for the last six years at the PAC-12 Championship, which currently the the regional qualifier for the NCAA Championships.

The team follows a traditional training program that includes erging, lifting and rowing. Coach Ford has a vision of a nationally competitive program in the back of her mind every day, and focuses on the process rather than the end result.

This year Ford completed her tenth year coaching Oregon State. Among Ford’s many successful student athletes is Devery Karz, who graduated in 2011, and is in the last month of preparation to race the Lightweight Women’s Double at the Rio Olympics. The soon-to-be-Olympian holds Coach Ford in high regard.

“Rowing for Emily Ford was a very gratifying experience," says Karz. "I was given an environment to push myself and to test my strengths. It was amazing to be given an opportunity to row when I may have never been given the same opportunity under a different coach. Coach Ford got me started on the path where I am today.”

Prior to OSU, Ford served eleven years as the assistant coach at the University of Michigan. Ford took the assistant coaching position with the Michigan Club Women, knowing that the following year the program would be made a varsity sport. At Michigan she learned to make decisions in the best interest of the team versus individuals. Before Michigan, Ford coached two years at her alma mater, the University of California at San Diego.

Oregon State Women’s Rowing has a strong leader and a Beaver Nation of highly competitive athletes. By focusing on the process, OSU rowing strives to be nationally competitive.