Sports Person of the Week
Carey Keeps Focus as Valley Crew Captain
Emma Carey has been a key member of the Valley Regional crew since her freshman season and is one of the Warriors’ senior captains this year. Emma also competes with the Blood Street Sculls during the offseason and will row at the Division I level for the University of Delaware next year. (Photo courtesy of Emma Carey )
Emma Carey is a dedicated rower for the Valley Regional crew and she’s earned a senior captaincy for her efforts. Emma has been rowing for the Warriors since her freshman year and seen marked improvement in her skills, along with the rest of the squad. Emma is a mainstay in the girls’ first boat of four and expects to compete in that spot again this year if a season takes place. In the high school offseason, Emma competes for the Blood Street Sculls in Old Lyme to keep herself in prime rowing condition. Next year, she will be part of a Division I crew at the University of Delaware.
Emma was named a captain for Valley at the team’s end-of-season banquet following her junior year. Since then, Emma has taken on a major role in guiding the crew’s training on Valley’s erg machines during the winter. She’s also proved a huge help in terms of keeping the younger student-athletes on her team engaged.
“I found out I would be captain last year at our banquet. I was really excited, because I have been with the team since 9th grade, and I had always had a hope to take up a leadership role. I know there were kids who didn’t know too much about the sport, and I wanted to help them learn about it,” Emma says. “My co-captain is the first boys’ captain that we’ve had, Brady Ingram. Getting the chance to have that connection between the two teams is also pretty exciting.”
The Valley crew has come a long way since Emma’s freshman year. The Warriors launched their first season as an independent team with their own equipment that spring, and it took some time for Head Coach John Laundon’s squad to make a name for itself on the rowing scene.
“That was the first year that we were independent. That was a cool time to come onto the team. I have been rowing since 7th grade. It was great to come onto the team that year and lay the groundwork,” says Emma, who lives in Essex. “We were a very young team, so being part of that young crowd and seeing how the team evolved was a really cool experience. We got second in states last year. My freshman year, we didn’t even place. Seeing the team grow so much in such a short period of time was so cool.”
That second-place finish at the Connecticut Public Schools Rowing Championships is one of Emma’s proudest achievements in her career as a rower. She feels that performance was Valley’s announcement that there was another solid competitor to reckon with in Connecticut.
“We weren’t always taken seriously because we were young, and we just got our own equipment. I think getting second at states really put us on the map,” says Emma. “We had done pretty well for ourselves the first couple of years, but we put up an amazing fight at states.”
Earning the title of captain was an important accomplishment for Emma. Now that she’s reached that goal, Emma has taken it upon herself to keep the rest of the crew’s eyes on the prize.
“Crew is a very strenuous sport. It takes a lot of energy, and it’s a lot of consistent moving. It can burn people out. Coach Laundon assigns the workouts, but it’s the captains’ job to keep everyone inspired and remind everyone why they do the sport. It can be painful and takes a lot of endurance,” Emma says. “You have to keep people up and keep everyone supported. When there are only four people in a boat, it can get competitive with such a limited amount of spots. You want to make sure that everyone is rooting for each other. You have to remember to work with each other, not against each other.”
Coach Laundon has seen great growth from Emma over the course of her high school career. He’s been impressed with how dedicated and enthusiastic Emma has remained throughout her time at Valley.
“Emma is a coach’s dream in that she’s self-driven. You don’t have to push her. I have always preached that kids should try to vary their sports. I think mentally and physiologically, if you do things year-round, you can get burnt out. She’s an exception to that. There are few other kids like her who all they want to do is row,” says Laundon. “I think that with Emma and Brady both leading by example this year that our team would have bought in. We may not have had the most talented group of rowers, but we would have had the most committed group.”
During Valley’s offseason, Emma competes for a club rowing squad in Old Lyme called the Blood Street Sculls. Emma has experienced some memorable moments with that group, as well.
“My club team means a lot to me, too. We have kids from all over the state. I remember one regatta called The Head of Charles in Boston. It’s pretty prestigious, and you have to qualify for it,” Emma says. “Our club got there three times. I was proud to get into those boats and proud of my teammates for working so hard and getting us back there.”
While there are athletes from across the state on the Blood Street Sculls, many of Emma’s Valley crew-mates also compete alongside her with the team in Old Lyme.
“With the Valley kids who come out to row in Blood Street Sculls, it creates a stronger bond for us in the spring. It means we also have two awesome coaches with Coach Laundon and [Blood Street Sculls coach] Paul Fuchs,” Emma says. “They have so much experience in the rowing world. To see both views has made me a better rower. I’m thankful to have both of them be a part of my rowing career.”
Emma gets to flex her versatility with her club crew since there are a wide variety of boats to man.
“With Blood Street, I primarily rowed with the four, but our coach likes to mix things up,” says Emma. “I’ve raced in pretty much every type of boat. High school is definitely more focused. When you get into the club teams, there’s a lot more variety. That was another cool experience.”
With the end of her high school career approaching, Emma is hoping for one last get-together for the Valley crew. That will depend upon on how and when the coronavirus pandemic ultimately concludes. Emma just hopes that everything gets back to normal as soon as possible and that everyone stays happy and healthy in the meantime.
“I’m definitely upset that the season won’t happen at its full capacity. I was excited to be an active captain during the season. Hopefully, we get on the water. That would be amazing, but I just want us all to get together one more time before I leave,” Emma says. “Even if we’re not racing, it’s special to get out on the water with your teammates. I would love to see everybody one more time to have a goodbye and, at the very least, have a banquet. This is all much bigger than that, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t wish I could be out on the water right now. I really miss it.”