Rowing team guides junior Grisanti to a new passion

Kaitlin Grisanti is part of the rowing team and Temple’s army ROTC program.

College wasn’t Kaitlin Grisanti’s first choice.

The junior rower wanted to enlist in the military after she graduated Smithtown High School East in New York, but her plans changed and she found herself on Main Campus.

“I wasn’t even sure about going to college,” Grisanti said. “I was going to join the Coast Guard coming out of high school, but my parents pushed me to go to college. It wasn’t really even my decision, it was theirs.”

After meeting some rowers during Welcome Week as a freshman, Grisanti walked onto the team.

“I always knew I wanted to be involved with sports in college having played them in high school, I just wasn’t sure how to get involved at first,” Grisanti said. “I originally thought about joining the rugby team, but during Welcome Week my freshman year the Rowing team just swept me up and I’ve been a part of it ever since.”

Grisanti’s story of joining the team is not exclusive to her. Due to the lack of rowing programs at high schools, the Temple coaching staff often has to look for athletes without a rowing pedigree.

“Because rowing is such a unique sport not a lot of people really have a chance to experience rowing in high school,” coach Rebecca Smith Grzybowski said. “We always find people during Welcome Week who are very athletic but had never been exposed to rowing and are not playing their high school sport at the Division I level.”

Grisanti’s dreams of joining the Coast Guard stalled when she decided to attend Temple, but she still looked for a way to stay involved in the military.

When she joined the Owls, her teammates explained how she could still achieve her goal by becoming a member of the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.

“Coming into Temple, I didn’t have an official affiliation with any branch of the military,” Grisanti said. “But after I joined the rowing team, some of my teammates told me about the ROTC program, and it really opened my eyes to the Army, considering that is Temple’s ROTC affiliation.”

As a Nesconset, New York native, Temple was not on Grisanti’s original list of potential colleges.

After some direction from her high school guidance counselor, she made the decision to come to North Philadelphia.

“Coming to Temple was really random for me,” Grisanti said. “I had no idea where I wanted to go, so my guidance counselor had me take one of those ‘find your perfect college’ surveys and Temple was my school and Philadelphia is a big city like New York, so it kind of just stuck.”

Kevin Schaeffer can be reached at

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