May 10, 2012
UCF Athletics Social Media Directory
By Chad Binette
Few high school girls join a boys’ varsity team and immediately become the leader, pushing the boys to do better.
Not many college freshmen lead and even coach their team’s top unit after just one game.
Katherine Kutash, a freshman coxswain on UCF’s rowing team, has done both while achieving success and earning the respect of her teammates and coaches.
“She really connects with the team,” UCF head coach Becky Cramer said. “Every time I see her interacting with the team, you see how much respect they have for her and how much she means to them. She gets the best out of them.”
This weekend, Kutash will lead the Knights on her biggest stage yet as a college coxswain – the Conference USA rowing championships Saturday in Tennessee. Her varsity-eight boat teammates, or “family” as they sometimes call each other, are confident and ready for the big regatta.
“We’ve become really close, and we have learned how to row really well together,” said Alyssa Egan, a senior on the varsity-eight boat. “I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.”
In addition to Kutsah and Egan, the varsity-eight rowers include Margaret Lahmeyer, Lucia Pinelli, Camille Everett, Chelsey Lauzon, Kara Johannesen, Calena Illan and Nina Morgan.
Lauzon earned her second consecutive selection to Conference USA’s All-Academic Team on Wednesday. A senior majoring in Elementary Education/Coaching, she holds a 3.94 GPA. She was the Conference USA Rowing Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2011.
“We are very proud Chelsey has received this honor,” Cramer said. “She always strives for excellence both on the water and in the classroom and it is exciting to see her accomplishments recognized by C-USA.”
Kutash, an English major, started rowing her sophomore year at Plant High School in Tampa. She signed up because a lot of her friends enjoyed being on the team their freshman year. She spent one year as the coxswain for the school’s women’s team and then her coaches asked her to lead boys’ boats for her final two years. That move paid off: Her boat won the men’s Second-8 Southeast Regionals in 2010 and placed second in 2011.
“For the first month, it was really hard,” Kutash said. “It was hard to gain their respect. But a lot of the guys are now my best friends, and I think they always will be.”
Coxswains’ responsibilities include steering the boat, calling out verbal instructions to the rowers and ensuring everyone’s safety. But they also play the role of coaches, especially during races when coaches are not allowed on the water. Coxswains have to balance being friends with their teammates and being able to tell a coach when there’s a problem that needs to be addressed.
Kutash has handled that balance well for UCF, and her teammates credit her for always taking the approach of “I’m going to help you do this” instead of blaming others when something needs to be improved.
Kutash praises her teammates for accepting her immediately and for having such strong internal motivations to win.
“I know they want to keep getting better,” Kutash said. “All it takes is to point something out and they’ll fix it.”
The second varsity eight, varsity four, second varsity four and novice eight boats all will race on Saturday.
UCF’s lineups for those boats are as follows:
2V8: Claire Frenkel (coxswain), Ginni Dunlop, Shannon Riley, Michelle Haves, Nicole Lacek, Amanda Schimian, Victoria Carroll, Kayla Thieken and Kelly Thiele.
V4: Lea Kram (coxswain), Anita Schmidt, Angelie Denizard, Shelby Flynn and Kali Mills
2V4: Heather Hart (coxswain), Allison Glisch, Eden Veldkamp, Noelle Crosby and Cristina Sotomayor
N8: Rebecca Campbell (coxswain), Casey Craig, Hannah Witt, Carla Ortiz, Morgan McCabe, Jackie Puterbaugh, Julie Arthur, Sydney Solan and Chelsea McCaulley