By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
College athlete of the week
Player: Megan Northey
Year, school: Senior, Western Washington University
Hometown: Brier (King’s High School)
What she did: Was named a National Scholar-Athlete by the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA), then added CRCA first-team All-America honors the next day.
What’s next: The No. 7 seat in the WWU varsity eight shell, Northey will be competing at the NCAA Division II championships this weekend in West Windsor, N.J.
You’ve really been raking in the awards lately. Which one means more _ the scholar-athlete, or the All-America honor?
Honestly, I just found out about both, when we left for nationals (on Monday). So honestly, I haven’t thought about them all that much. The scholar-athlete one is really important, especially for D-II athletes, because we focus on being students first and then athletes. It’s important to focus on things other than sports because that’s what we’re going to be doing the rest of our lives. But All-America is a really awesome honor.
You put up a 3.92 GPA. What’s that, like, one or two B’s in your career?
Um, yeah. I’ve gotten two B’s.
Do you remember the classes? And are you still mad at the teachers?
Oh, no, I’m not mad at the teachers. But I do remember the classes. Calculus I and Calculus II. Just thinking about the take-home tests makes me a little nauseous. But I know that I tried my best, and I worked my butt off in both classes, so I’m pretty proud of those B’s.
Obviously, succeeding in the classroom takes a lot of work. But I can’t imagine the work you had to put in before breaking a school record in the ergo. What can you tell us about that?
That was something that was really exciting. It pretty much happened by accident. Of course, I’ve put in a lot of time on the ergo _ especially since I’ve been injured and haven’t been able to run. It happened before the first 2K of the season, and I said: ‘All I have to do is concentrate for eight minutes.’ It was a really amazing experience. Then I broke it again at Ergomania, which was amazing because my family was there.
So what’s the record?
The original record was 7:13 (over 2,000 meters). My two were 7:12.
Have you ever added up the time you’ve spent on an ergo machine in your lifetime?
I try not to. It’s kind of a sad reality. You’re sitting there pretty much staring at a wall. During the fall and winter, when we’re really training and not racing at all, I probably spend five to six hours a week on the erg machine. But that’s nothing compared to Olympic training and what the national team puts in. It’s still a lot of time to be staring at a wall.
You mentioned an injury that prevented you from running. What was it?
It’s actually undiagnosed. I’ve been to a lot of doctors. It has to do with my peroneal tendon, which I guess is also known as the fibularis. I’m not sure what it is. I do get injured a lot. I like to say I take them for the team.
When did you get hurt?
It started in June of my freshman year. But I was able to row with it, do any non-impact activity, so that’s awesome. I’m so glad I’m able to do crew.
Right now, you’re in New Jersey preparing for a run at a Division II national title. Are you nervous yet?
Um, yeah. I get nervous. It kind of goes on and off. It’s like a cycle. I’m really nervous, then I get calm, where I won’t think about it in the days leading up to it. That’s fine. I know on the day of the race, I’ll be zeroed in. I haven’t been competing in crew that long _ four years _ but I raced in track and know what it takes to compete. So I’ll be ready.
You went to Western as a track athlete. What were your events?
I raced the 800 (meter run) and the 4-by-4 (4 x 400 meter relay).
How did you get into rowing?
I was at a cross country meet and met this girl who was also on the team. We took a cooldown lap together, and I said I always wanted to try rowing. She said: ‘Me too. If you ever want to try, call me.’ We heard about this info meeting, and she called me, and we went. Then we signed all the NCAA forms that pretty much sign you up for the team. We kept telling the track coach that we just wanted to try it out, that we were really committed to track. But then as the year went on, we fell in love with the team and fell in love with the sport. Now Kate (Berni) and I are both in the varsity eight shell and have been rowing for four years.
Did you only do one year of track then?
We did cross country and indoor track, then I didn’t do outdoor because of rowing.
What did the coach say when you didn’t come back?
Pee Wee (Halsell) was totally cool with it. He just said: ‘Follow what you want to do. We’d love to have you on the track team, but I understand if you want to row.’
And now you’re a team captain. It worked out pretty well, huh?
Yeah, it did.
I’d imagine having a 3.92 GPA will open up a lot of doors for you. What’s next for you?
I’d like to go to physical therapy school in a year. I’m going to take a year off and collect myself first. But, yeah, definitely physical therapy school. That’s the plan.
I would offer you a high-paying job as an Everett Herald sportswriter, but we have a pretty strict policy about not allowing anyone under a 4.0 into the building.
Yeah, I can imagine. (Laughs) It’s pretty difficult. That’s a pretty difficult job to get.