Keira Collins is a freshman at Acton Academy and a varsity rower at the Texas Rowing Center. This summer she was invited to row in the Olympic Development Program for the first time, and last Thursday I got a chance to pick her brain about how she got to where she is now, where she hopes to go from here, and what her advice is for aspiring rowers.
Keira's journey as a rower began at the end of her sixth-grade year when her dad signed her up for the recreational crew. It was there that she found her love for the sport and her love for the comradery that rowing provides. From there, Keira would join TRC as a novice before earning a spot on the varsity squad in her 8th-grade year, and then when everything was looking up for her, COVID hit and derailed the rowing season.
It was during this time when Keira really started to push herself to be the best athlete she could be. While most people sat on their hands waiting for practice and regattas to start again, Keira went to work, spending the free time COVID gave her to improve rapidly and immensely. She worked day after day to become the best version of herself as a rower, so when the season resumed, she could capitalize on the opportunity that COVID provided her. This work would pay off as she became not only one of the best rowers at her club, but one of the best rowers in the nation.
Keira hopes to learn a lot from the Olympic Development Program this year, in hopes to improve even further. She also believes she could win multiple medals in the competition at the end of the summer. Keria hopes that in the years to come she can continue to improve and be asked back to the program again. She also hopes that she will be able to row in college and perhaps, if all the chips fall in the correct place, one day row in the Olympics.
Before we ended the interview, Keira gave one last piece of advice to aspiring rowers all around the world. She said that, "If you truly do want to be great putting the work in now will pay off. You might not see the value in it now, but one day you will thank your previous self for doing what they could to help you reach your goal." A piece of advice that truly does embody Keira both as a rower and a person.
The scorching Texas sun shone on Burger field as both teams warmed up and prepared for the last game of the season. For many of these student-athletes, this would be their last game, and you could feel the nervous energy all the way in the stands. This energy was reciprocated by the fans and the tension in the stadium started to rise. Then, just as the tension began to reach its capacity, the first pitch was thrown and with that, the tension turned instantaneously into excitement.
The Bulldogs opened up the game with excellent fielding, securing outs on the first three batters who stepped up to the plate. In the bottom half of the first inning, the Rebels showed great resilience only allowing one run due to an error.
The second inning was more of the same for the Bowie defense as they were once again able to get out of the top of the inning without allowing a hit. However, in the bottom of the second, the game began to heat up as the Bulldogs were able to hit an RBI triple. However, with one out, Hays was able to manufacture an amazing double play off a sacrifice bunt, halting Bowie's momentum in its tracks.
That amazing play, though, would not help them much in the end. Despite only allowing one run in each inning, excluding the bottom of the 5th where they shut Bowie out, Hays would not be able to win the game thanks to a combined no-hitter by Bulldog pitchers Patrick Collopy, Ryan Corbett, and Danny Rodriguez.
In the end, this game was closer than the final score suggests. It felt as if the Rebels had a chance to win all the way to the final strike. Yet it was not to be, and as the last out was recorded, you could feel the excitement from the Bulldogs' bullpen as they celebrated their last victory together. As everyone emptied the stands you could see each team reflecting on the season, reminiscing about the highs and the lows of the past few months. Then, as the sun set on the 2021 high school baseball season for the Bulldogs and Rebels, both fans and players left with a sense of a season well played.