Until last year, Charlotte Forman didn’t even know rowing existed.
A freshman on Temple’s rowing team, her entry in the sport was unorthodox, but it was quick. She emerged onto the rowing scene last May, just weeks before graduating high school, when she started rowing at the East End Rowing Club in New York. Despite the late start, Forman wasted no time adjusting to the boat as she quickly found success between the gunwales.
During the summer, the former basketball player rowed the novice single scull and finished 19 seconds ahead of her competitors at the Schuylkill Navy Regatta and the Independence Regatta, both held in Philadelphia.
Her success on the local and regional levels shaped her path onto the national stage. Two months into her rowing career, the New York native competed in the junior single sculls event at the USRowing Club National Championships last July on Melton Lake in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
Temple coach Rebecca Grzybowski was observing Forman from the lake’s shoreline that day, as the Owls’ third-year rowing coach spent the summer at the helm of Vesper’s Rowing Club. While Temple was not competing in the five-day event, its coach witnessed Forman’s fourth-place finish in 8 minutes, 56 seconds in the semifinal of Club Nationals.
When Grzybowski found out that Forman had not yet settled on her college choice, the Temple coach quickly grasped the opportunity to reach out to her in Tennessee.
“I talked to [Forman’s] coach a little bit and then exchanged phone numbers with her,” Grzybowski said. “Then, [Forman] reached out to me and said she was interested in talking about rowing at a [Division I] level in college and we kind of took it from there.”
Just days before the Fall 2014 season began, Forman signed and committed to Temple.
Since then, the freshman has made adjustments.
Unlike rowing on her own during the summer in the single sculls, Forman is now seated in the boat with eight of her teammates. She is Temple’s lone freshman this season to row in the varsity A and B boats.
“It’s real exciting, but also nerve-racking because I know that there are girls in the other boats who have a lot more rowing experience than I have,” Forman said of racing amongst Temple’s varsity squad. “I know I have to step up and do everything that I can to maintain their level of experience.”
Nevertheless, during her brief stint at Temple, Forman said the team has been welcoming and showing her ways to improve her skills.
“They are always helping me, which is really nice,” Forman said. “They let me know if I am doing something wrong with my blade work or anything. It’s really exciting.”
“When I started rowing, I was coaching with my coach in East End Rowing Club, I was the only one,” Forman added. “It was all these masters and all these old folks who used to row from other places who ended up moving from other places. It’s so much nicer to be at Temple, with these people working and helping me figure stuff out because I [used to be] alone with my coach, and it was very isolated.”
With Forman being the lone freshman in a Varsity 8 boat, teammate and senior Annie Buckley, who rowed in the second Varsity 8 boat for the past two seasons and now currently rows with the first Varsity 8 team, said rowing on the varsity level presents a unique challenge.
“When you are in the Varsity 8 boat, you just carry yourself a certain way because you are supposed to be the fastest boat on your team,” Buckley said. “You are supposed to maintain that level of speed and confidence. You can’t be messing around all the time. It’s a different level of seriousness.”
“When it’s practice, it’s practice,” Buckley added. “We are not serious all the time, but when it’s race day, it’s race day.”
Midway through her first spring season, Forman acknowledges that she is not only learning and having fun in the boat, but she’s also enjoying life outside of it.
“We went to a concert [last month] together,” Forman said “We went to see Meek Mill and Rick Ross [at the Wells Fargo Center], and it was really fun. … We like to go to the thrift stores and get cool stuff, cool T-shirts, overalls and funny looking hats.”