Sophie de Angelis (’17) was recently appointed Captain of Boats at Harvard University – the latest milestone in a rowing journey that began with her rowing days at Loreto Kirribilli.
After the Australian National Rowing Championships in 2016, when Sophie won gold in the Schoolgirl Four (4+) with Tara Rigney (Tokyo 2020 Olympian), Lucy Lennon, Olivia Jackson and Charlotte Shackley (cox), the girls were put on the radar of a few American colleges.
“Coaches from Harvard and Yale contacted me, and I began the recruitment process. I had to sit the SATs in Year 12, and as my results were high enough, Harvard flew me over for an official visit at the end of 2017. I had an interview on campus, stayed with a student at the time and went to classes with them to gain a glimpse of college life.
“Rowing has provided me with this incredible opportunity, and I was lucky enough to be admitted with a recommendation from the Harvard-Radcliffe Rowing coaches.
“Some of my favourite experiences have been during my time at Harvard-Radcliffe Rowing and many of my closest friends are also my teammates. I am proud to have the opportunity to lead the team for the 2021-22 season, especially coming back together after a difficult year and a half apart [due to the pandemic].”
On top of her rowing schedule, Sophie is studying for a Bachelor of Arts, with a Major in Psychology and a Minor in Italian. “Harvard University offers a Liberal Arts and Sciences education, which has given me the opportunity to study a variety of subjects. So, while I have taken many classes in the Psychology and Romance Languages departments, I have taken many other fascinating classes, such as Medical Ethics; Chocolate, Culture and the Politics of Food; Landmarks of World Architecture, and many more.”
After graduation, Sophie hopes to study Medicine in Sydney. “I am not sure what specialty I will pursue, but I am keeping an open mind. It has always been a dream of mine to volunteer for Médecins Sans Frontières, which I will hopefully be able to pursue later down the line.”
Sophie was influenced to take up rowing after watching two of her older brothers row for St. Ignatius’ College, Riverview. “Before I started at Loreto, I always enjoyed watching my brothers compete at the Gold Cup Regattas and Head of the River, and loved hearing about their fun experiences with their crews. As they loved their time rowing so much, I wanted to try rowing to experience that same team camaraderie, and to try a new sport that allowed me to extend myself in new ways. I started rowing at the end of Year 7 for Loreto Kirribilli.”
Sophie has many favourite memories from her time at Loreto Kirribilli. “It was the Music Festival, fundraising days, and sports carnivals that made the school’s sense of community most apparent, and I felt special to be involved in and supported by something that was greater than myself.”
Sophie’s experience with Loreto Kirribilli Rowing is also a highlight. “The friendships I made through rowing at Loreto are lifelong, and the opportunities for learning and growth are something I will forever be grateful for. I was lucky to be supported by some amazing coaches, who helped me develop and excel in many ways – both in and out of the boatshed. I am thankful for their ongoing support – in particular, the support of Locky Allen. I am very appreciative of having the opportunity to return to Loreto as a rowing coach in 2020 to pass on some of the wisdom that was shared with me during my time at Loreto Kirribilli Rowing.”
When asked what advice she would give to young Kirribilli rowers today, Sophie speaks of the unique strength rowing imparts.
“Rowing is a sport that teaches you things about yourself that you would otherwise never have the chance to discover. It is a sport that requires hard work; a LOT of sweat; many blisters; sore legs and a tired mind! It teaches you to push yourself to the brink, and to encourage others to do the same.
“But, the most unique aspect of rowing is that it requires everyone as individuals to come together to form a single, powerful unit. Rowing is exemplified by the concept of synergy – that the whole crew’s collective power is greater than the sum of its individual parts.
“There are not many other arenas in life that allow you to experience this effect of synergy. But knowing what it feels like means that you can take strength into whatever you do in life, and teach others the power of working together for something greater than yourself.”
We wish Sophie all the very best in her endeavours and look forward to seeing her back in Sydney.