Taking life one stroke at a time
She had never competed in her sport before arriving at college, but Marion graduate Kaelyn Thierolf has capped her career as a second-generation Division 1 student athlete with two more honors.
Named rower of the year for her team at the University of Kansas and a national scholar-athlete, her picture will now hang in the university’s boathouse long after her graduation next spring.
“I feel like I had exactly four years to give it all I have,” she said. “I wanted to use all my potential up.”
The rower of the year award honors the team member who works the hardest and exhibits the best leadership. It’s voted on by coaches.
Her national scholar-athlete award, bestowed by the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association, recognizes her performance not only as an athlete but also a student in the classroom.
The criteria for this academic award requires students to maintain a 3.5 cumulative GPA.
Thierolf, who has completed four year of eligibility, plans to finish her education with a year of student teaching in Kansas City before receiving her degree in education.
The best thing to come out of her experience, she says, are the relationships built with fellow rowers.
“It’s an incredible experience,” she said. “You’re with the girls on the team for so many hours a week. Those are the ones you’re really putting yourself on the line for, and it builds a bond stronger than ever. They’re really there for you at the end of the day. The girls on my team made me a better person and made me stronger.”
Both of Kaelyn’s parents, Grant and Deanna, are proud to watch their daughter follows in their footsteps into the world of education.
“It’s a pretty intense sport,” Deanna said. “It’s probably the hardest thing she’s ever done.”
Kaelyn, who graduated as salutatorian of her high school class, said when her college workload became intimidating she would enlist the help of her father.
“It’s just about getting into a routine,” she said. “I just thought, ‘if my teammates can do it, I can do it.’”
My dad played football in college, so he was the guy who could bring me back down and remind me why I was there.”
Thierolf credits her parents for her ability to be successful.
“They really prepared me and gave me all the skills,” she said.
Deanna said she always wanted to make sure her daughter knew how important a strong work ethic was.
“We always told her just to do her best, no matter what the grade was, you put your best effort in anything you do, not just grades,” she said.
Last modified June 14, 2018