For sophomore Kerianne McGee, every practice feels like a small piece of home.
Not only is her sister, senior Kelly McGee, on the team, but the Owls also have two other rowers from her hometown. The McGee sisters, freshman Gabrielle Gordon and sophomore Claire Savage are all from Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, in Delaware County.
The McGees both attended Upper Darby High School in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. Gordon went to Archbishop John Carroll High School in Radnor, Pennsylvania, while Savage attended Archbishop Prendergast High School in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania.
In Saturday’s Kelly Cup on the Schuylkill, the McGee sisters placed second in their races, and Savage and Gordon earned gold medals.
“There’s a lot of athletes from Drexel Hill that are interested in Temple because they’re so close,” Savage said. “I can name five to eight rowers from Prendy who then came to Temple to row. Because of that, I thought of Temple as a very friendly option for me.”
In the Owls’ first event of Spring 2018 — a race against Boston College and the University of North Carolina on March 24 on the Schuylkill — Kelly McGee competed in the Varsity 8 boat, Kerianne McGee was in the Varsity 4, Savage was in the Second Varsity 8 and Gordon was in the Third Varsity 8.
They sat in the same boats and placed in the top three of their races during the Murphy Cup on March 31. Then, Kerianne McGee and the rest of the Varsity 4 earned a bronze medal at the Knecht Cup on April 13 in New Jersey.
Only one of the four rowers from Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, was recruited out of high school.
Gordon rowed at Archbishop Carroll for three seasons in the Varsity 8 boat before she enrolled at Temple. She got introduced to rowing by her next-door neighbor Wayne Milio and basketball coach Mike Nichols, who both rowed for Temple.
“I wanted to continue rowing from my high school experience, and having such a strong connection from back home just made it so much more appealing,” Gordon said.
Kerianne and Kelly McGee each made the team through open tryouts, while Savage was a preferred walk-on, meaning she was guaranteed a spot on the team, but not a scholarship.
Savage’s older sister Anna is a junior rower at Drexel. The two sisters, who used to row together in high school, now have “a little sibling rivalry” at the college level, Claire Savage said.
“Since we both started at Prendy together and since she rowed, I figured that I should go out for the team with her,” Claire Savage said.
Kelly McGee played softball and field hockey at Upper Darby High School. She intended to play for the club field hockey team at Temple, but the commitment didn’t work with her schedule during her freshman year.
She found out about rowing tryouts and decided to try to make the team. Kelly McGee had an appreciation for the sport because of a high school friend who was going to row at the Naval Academy.
Once Kerianne McGee came to Temple, her older sister brought her into the sport.
“My senior year of high school, when Kelly was a sophomore here, I went to one of her meets and saw the team race for the first time,” Kerianne McGee said. “Since then, I just fell in love with it. I love racing, so it’s the perfect sport for me.”
Though the McGees weren’t friends with the other rowers before they joined Temple’s team, Kerianne McGee said it’s nice to have people on the team from her hometown.
“Kerianne and I didn’t know each other before we got here, but we’ve been friends on Facebook for eight years and had no idea,” Savage said. “We also live like two minutes away from each other. Delco people just find each other here.”