Episcopal Academy rower Shannon Conlin is Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week

Shannon Conlin

The senior has been an outstanding rower for Episcopal Academy, last spring winning a silver medal at the Philadelphia City Championship, a bronze medal at the Stotesbury Cup Regatta, a silver medal at the Scholastic National, and a gold medal at the National Schools Regatta. She also runs cross-country for EA – and comes from an athletic family – her twin brother Shane is a standout football player for EA who will be playing the sport for Ursinus next fall, and her father Craig is the EA boys’ basketball head coach.

Q: Your boat, the Girls’ Varsity 4x, has had some strong finishes for EA so far this season in the Manny Flick races and in the Steve Neczypor Regatta in Pennsauken, N.J. What (in your opinion) has been its best race this spring to date and why?

A: This spring we have switched people around and we are still trying to find what works best for the boat.  So far our best race has been the 3rd Manny Flick of the season.  We stayed aggressive throughout the piece and cut our distance from Conestoga in half.  They have been our greatest competition this year and last, and our goal this season is to keep shaving seconds off from their quad.  

Q: Your boat earned a silver medal in the Philadelphia City Championship and a bronze medal at Stotesbury last spring. What was your most vivid memory from those two races – can you share it with us?

A: After our finals race for Stotesbury we docked onto the awards dock to receive our medals in front of all of these supporters at the grand stands.  The Stotesbury Regatta is the largest high school regatta and to know that we were one of the top three boats to compete in our division was a surreal feeling.  

Q: Your boat also won a silver medal at the Scholastic Nationals and a gold medal at the National Schools Regatta. What was your most memorable experience at Nationals – can you share it with us?

A: Scholastic Nationals is definitely my favorite race from last spring.  Our semifinals race was really strong.  We walked away from the other crews within the first 500 meters, and kept swinging with each other; we really gelled.  Laura Zecca (stroke), Morgan Lindblad (2), Josie Konopka (bow), and I were motivated for our finals race the next day but we knew it would be close with Western Albermarle.  Our boat was overlapped with Western Albermarle the entire finals race and we just kept pushing and staying on it with every stroke. We missed gold by less than one second, but staying even with a crew for the majority of the race and staying so controlled really sticks with me.  

Q: Can you walk us through a typical training session – both in-season and out-of-season?

A: I run for the Episcopal cross-country team in the fall.  Conditioning out of season for rowing is crucial and running, especially long distance, is great for cardio work as well as endurance.  Building up endurance in the fall really helps me stay strong on the pieces we do in season on the water.  I also lift and erg through the winter season to continue getting cardio work and gain muscle.  In season we do long and low pieces, which work on focus and muscle memory, and fast pieces to simulate a race.  

Q: Do you think the Varsity 4x is the boat that best fits your skills, and if so, why?

A: I have been competing in sculling boats for over a year and I have more experience sculling rather than sweeping.  In the fall, I competed in the Varsity Women’s 2x with Josie Konopka. In a smaller boat, flaws in technique really stand out.  This helped me move towards perfecting each stroke for the Varsity 4x.  

Q: Who have been your biggest crew mentors, and what was the important thing each of them taught you?

A: Although many coaches have taught me how to row and to compete, the coach that has had the most influence on me is Coach [Molly] Konopka.  Because Coach Konopka rowed at The University of Pennsylvania, she understands what it is like to be a female athlete competing at a high level.  She knows the right motivational words to help the athlete continue to perform at their best.  She’s the coach I look towards to cox me through my 2ks because she knows how to push me.  Coach Konopka constantly inspires me and my team mates to push ourselves everyday at practices and races.  I value that she makes you earn her praise.  

Q: What (in your opinion) has been the most memorable moment of your EA crew career? Can you share your memory of that moment with us?

A: National Schools Regatta was a great day for our quad last year.  We really pushed out on the other crews and stayed aggressive.  Although we were really excited to hold our trophy and our medals, it was also bittersweet knowing that I wouldn’t compete with my boat mates like this again.  

Q: Have you chosen a college yet, and if so what attracted you to that school? What do you think you’d like to major in? Is there a career path that particularly interests you at the present time?

A: I am going to attend the University of Alabama next year.  I plan to be a dentist and I am currently in a pre-dental track.  

Q: What extracurricular activities are you involved in at EA other than crew? What sparked your interest in these other activities?

A: Other than crew, I am involved in the photography program at Episcopal.  I currently take the Honors Photography course offered at EA.  I have showcased some of my photos in our school gallery and the Inter Ac Gallery at The Haverford School, as well as for the school yearbook and newspaper.  I have always been interested in photography, especially sports photography.

Fun facts – Shannon Conlin

Favorite book: The Spectacular Now.

Favorite TV show: Friends.

Favorite movie: Weird Science.

Favorite pre-race pump-up song: Campaign by Ty Dolla $ign featuring Future.

Favorite team: Washington rowing.

Favorite pre-race meal: For dinner the night before, pasta with chicken. For breakfast before the race, eggs with toast.

Person I most admire: “Coach Molly Konopka.  She is a great coach who pushes everyone to their full potential.”

Favorite color: Blue.

Family members: parents Craig and Elizabeth, twin brother Shane.

(To be selected as Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by her coach.)

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