Captains’ Corner: Clara Beery ’18 and Bertie Miller ’18

 

Clara’s team:    Women’s crew

Hometown: Berkeley, Calif.

Residence: The Rectory

Major: History andcomparative literature

Snack bar order:Buffalo fries

 

 

Bertie’s team: Women’s crew

Hometown: New York, N.Y.

Residence: The Rectory

Major: Geosciences and studio art

Snack bar order: Rise and shine

Why did you two decide to come to Williams?

CB: I definitely knew that I wanted to come to a small school. That was a big thing for me. And I wanted to go somewhere I [could] row, be an academic person and figure out what I was doing, which is something that is unavailable at the Div. I level. This is the real reason I chose it. One year before [applying to colleges], two girls from my high school program came here for officials, and they came back extremely excited about it. They said it was so cool, and they really liked the girls they met. I [had] never heard of Williams before, but I was like, “They have really good judgment, and they know what’s going on.” So when I was going through my college process, it was always in the back of my head that these girls said Williams has a really good program and that they would be really excited to go there. They definitely influenced my decision a lot.

BM: Similarly, I was looking for a place where I could be doing more than one thing. Based on the places I was having official visits at, when I came here, it was just by far the best place. The people were amazing and very down-to-earth and totally my vibe. I saw the opportunity to have a life here that I would find very happy and fulfilling and that I might be more pressed to find at other places. It felt like the right match.

When and why did you start rowing?

BM: I started pretty young. I started when I was 12. I started at a learn-to-scull camp in a single scull. It was very casual, not competitive. And my high school had a team, so I rowed with them in sweep boats. My dad rowed, but he never pressured us to do it. It was something I was aware of from a really young age, which most people aren’t. I had early access to it. Through high school, it became my favorite athletic endeavor that I ever tried.

CB: Similarly, crew is a sport you have to know about to enter into. My aunt had a single scull, and we had a family friend who was a rower. A family friend taught me how to row when I was 13. So in the back of my head, I was like, “Rowing is a thing.” And then I showed up to practice one day and never stopped showing up. I remember getting to a point and thinking, “Wait, how did I make this choice?” It was already so much a part of me that there was no going back. It is very much a sport you just walk into.

What is it like working with your head coach Kate Maloney and your assistant coach Meg Conan?

CB: They definitely have very distinct personalities, which is very fun to work with. It has been really interesting this year to have a very close working relationship with them. Especially just having Meg over the fall and Kate coming back from maternity leave, it’s been really fun to be a real part in shaping the program. The biggest part for me this year is feeling like I really have a voice and to some extent can change the course of things. They give us the chance to be assertive and say what we want to do.

BM: They balance each other out. They have very different leadership styles, but all four of us together form a nice balance of decision-making and leadership. Especially from the transition from fall to spring, there has been a lot of trust put in our opinions and our leadership. We serve as a bridge between the team and the coaches. It has been a really cohesive, thorough and honest year for us in a really good way.

What is it like working with each other?

CB: We probably have too much fun.

BM: Clara is very good at organizing things, which I am very thankful for.

CB: We work really great together. I am very thankful for the team for selecting us together because I can’t imagine working with anyone else. I love all the other girls very much, but I think our working relationship is very ideal and has been extremely fun. We are very much on the same page on things. We are one sometimes. We worked together in boats very closely for the last three years, so that is definitely one of the reasons why we work well together. We have been through difficult situations together. We also share a wall.

BM: It is very interesting. Even with us being on and off the water and being a pair partner last year, we have the same kind of communication and trust.

How do you create a good team dynamic?

CB: That has been a big focus for us this year – how that has to be an active process as opposed to, “Oh, it will happen because everyone is so cool.” We have put a lot of work into creating a team dynamic and putting real trust in each other. We definitely had a lot of hard conversations that were necessary to have. Because there are so many girls and such different levels of experience and background, being able to create a community where everyone feels heard is really important to us. We had pods of people where groups of girls from different years and involvement all got together and talked about their experiences. And we are having a movie night tonight, where everyone can come and hang out. Little things where everyone can feel like their voices are heard and that they’re shaping this. At the end of the day, everyone needs to be an active participant for the project to work.

BM: We had a lot of meetings, workshops and conversations about what kind of team we want to be and how we want our presence to be. But I think ultimately it is about fostering a community. A lot of people mistake spending a lot of time together for togetherness. The team dynamic we are hoping for is one that is inclusive but gives people the freedom to be at Williams the way they want to be. I think we do a good job as a team about giving people the space for friendship and community as well as all the other things a team provides. Being a 40-person team, having everyone connected and buying in is really necessary.

What do you think are the best and worst things about the sport?

CB: For me, the worst thing is the lack of control you have over outcomes. You can do everything that you can think of correctly, and you can put your whole heart into it and still fail at the end of the day. That is so hard to come to terms with. But on the flip side, that is the greatest thing about the sport. You have this opportunity to put your whole self into something and to throw yourself with a bunch of other girls who are throwing themselves completely at a project. The best thing is seeing people working together at something and being able to create something together.

BM: I agree. You are really trusting that you all will be committed and on the same page. Every minute hand motion, rotation and direct, you are throwing your whole self into it with eight other people all at the same time. The hardest part is doing it, and the best part is doing it. It is an all-encompassing experience. Giving your all is a very vulnerable moment but also a very powerful moment because we go fast, and it is fun.

What are some of your team and personal goals?

CB: A big team goal for us is that we want all of our boats to medal at NIRC [National Invitational Rowing Championship]. And beyond that, we want to get all of our boats to go to Nationals and do as well as they can there. There has been a big focus on bringing the whole team up, as opposed to just the upper levels. Depth has been a big thing for us this year. And because we have a lot of depth, ability and drive this year, we want to make sure we are rewarding that and creating a culture where we can get the best out of every single boat and not just the top boat.

BM: Yeah, exactly. It is about harnessing that depth that we do have. We have a whole squad of really hardworking people.

Is there anything on your bucket lists?

CB: Ooh, I don’t know. I never make bucket lists. I am not that kind of person. I am also afraid of everything, so there’s that. I am very excited for the end of the year and hanging out with other seniors and having that moment I have seen other seniors go through. That is very exciting for me, and it is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime thing. You get to be with your class and watch everyone move on, which is really cool and exciting.

BM: I think the only thing that I have on my bucket list is to enjoy my time.

In three words, describe each other.

CB: Bertie is brilliant. She is so smart and amazing. She is so kind. I have never met someone who radiates such love for the people around her. It is amazing to see. My last word is original. There is no one like Bertie. There is no one cooler than that.

BM: You are brave. You are one of the bravest people I have ever met. You are also empathetic. You are a very empathetic person, and it comes through in how you communicate with people. It is a big part of who you are. You are also really fun. The team and my friendship with you wouldn’t be the same without those three things.

 

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