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Article Published May 23, 2020

Wiley Makes Waves with Two Crews

By By Dean Bibens

Charlotte Wiley anchors herself in the engine room with the Blood Street Sculls crew as she prepares for the biggest meet of her rowing career—the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston. Thousands of spectators gather for the event each year, but the pressure doesn’t faze Charlotte, a senior captain for the crew at Guilford High School.

“Head of the Charles has 11,000 competitors every year, and it’s some pretty stiff competition,” says Charlotte. “I love the competition, and it’s fun to go against some of the best rowers in the world.”

Charlotte started rowing during the summer before her freshman year of high school. In each of the last two years, she’s competed alongside her crewmates with the Blood Street Sculls—a club team based out of Old Lyme—at the Head of the Charles Regatta, which is the largest two-day regatta in the world.

Last year, Charlotte helped the crew take 47th place out of 85 teams in the women’s youth fours competition by posting a time of 20 minutes and 19.696 seconds for the three-mile course. In 2018, Charlotte and the Sculls finished 23rd among 84 squads in the same division with a time of 20:08.010.

“It was awesome being able to compete in this event for the past two years,” says Charlotte. “More than anything, though, I was excited to end my career with the Guilford team on a high note. I’m so proud of everyone on the team who has been putting in the work all winter long. We’ve been grinding it out. It would have been amazing to see what we could have accomplished.”

Prior to getting involved with rowing, Charlotte competed as a runner and a dancer. She initially had plans of joining the Guilford cross country program as a freshman. However, after attending a two-week learn-to-row camp, everything changed for Charlotte.

“By the end of that program, I knew this is what I wanted to be doing competitively,” Charlotte says. “I really enjoyed running, but this clicked differently for me. I love that every position in the boat is needed in order to win. It’s a family.”

Guilford crew Head Coach Matthew Wilson says that Charlotte has been a leader on the water since her freshman season. Charlotte led the Indians as a captain last spring and was set to hold that role again in her senior year.

“Charlotte first made the varsity boat as a freshman and immediately had an impact on the boat’s success. In each year following, she was determined to improve her skills and be the best she could be,” says Wilson. “As a student-athlete, Charlotte is extremely competitive and never settles for mediocrity. She always challenges herself to be better.”

In her junior season, Charlotte guided the Guilford crew to its first appearance at the New England Rowing Championships in program history. The girls’ crew was slated to feature around 45 rowers this year, and Charlotte felt confident that the Indians were going to take it to another level.

“We had a strong returning core. Our senior class has been very strong varsity rowers for the last three years, and we’ve all put the work in,” Charlotte says. “Over the winter, we trained four days a week, lifting weights and doing cardio work. When you look at the number of hours we put in training versus the number of minutes we compete in a race, it’s astronomical. But that’s what it takes to be great.”

Outside of rowing, Charlotte is an honors student and a National Merit Scholar who’s taken eight Advanced Placement classes at Guilford High School. She has also made the U.S. Rowing Scholastic Honor Roll, in addition to earning the Connecticut Association of Public Schools Superintendent’s Student Award.

Next year, Charlotte will take her talents to the University of Central Florida (UCF) to row at the Division I level with the women’s crew. Charlotte plans on majoring in environmental science with hopes of working in the university’s sea turtle lab during graduate school.

“I am beyond excited to be attending UCF. I’ve met everyone on the crew team already, and I can’t wait to get started,” says Charlotte. “And the academics excite me just as much. It’s definitely the place I want to be.”

Coach Wilson envisions Charlotte having an abundance of success at UCF. Wilson knows that Charlotte is going to doing a great job of leading her new crew—just like she did at Guilford.

“Through her three years on the team, Charlotte’s passion for the sport was witnessed by both coaches and teammates alike,” Wilson says. “Charlotte understood that not all student-athletes absorb material or execute drills the same. She learned how to not only lead by example, but also demonstrate techniques to her teammates that would help them maximize their own potential and performance.”