By Meg Ellis
KINGSTON, R.I. – Rhode Island senior Allie Reilly has been named to the U.S. National Team that will compete at the 2018 World Rowing Championships as a member of the PR3 mixed four with coxswain.
Reilly and the other athletes selected through U.S. Rowing training camps will line up against the top rowers in the world in Plovdiv, Bulgaria from September 8-16. Though she spent last summer training with the para-team out of the facility they use in Boston, this will be Reilly's first time representing her country at the World Championships.
"I am very excited to be selected and it is an honor to represent the US in Bulgaria," Reilly said. "I am very excited to go to Bulgaria because it wouldn't be a place I would think to travel to on my own and I can't wait to experience their culture."
The PR3 mixed four is made up of four rowers: two males and two females. Formerly classified as "LTA" (Legs, trunk, arms), PR3 rowers are classified as those without use, or at least limited use of at least one leg, trunk and arms. Rowers with visual impairments also fall under this category. Reilly's classification as a para athlete comes from her lack of motion in her ankles and feet, as well as her hands due to multiple reconstructive surgeries. Born with extra digits on both her hands and feet, she suffers from a pain similar to those with arthritis when trying to get through long practices in the boat.
This summer, Reilly was one of 14 athletes invited to para selection camp by head coach Ellen Mizner. Following nearly a month of training throughout July, Reilly was named to Team USA along with coxswain Jenny Sichel (Bryn Mawr College), Dani Hansen (University of Washington), Charley Nordin (Gonzaga University) and Mike Varro (University of Minnesota).
Reilly is joining a highly successful PR3 mixed four with coxswain crew. Sichel, Hansen and Varro were on the boat when it won silver at the 2017 World Rowing Championships, while Hansen and Sichel also won silver for Team USA at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Reilly has been a regular in Rhode Island head coach Shelagh Donohoe's lineup since her arrival on campus. She has helped Rhode Island win two Atlantic 10 titles in her three seasons with the Rams. She was part of Rhode Island's Varsity 8+ boat that led the Rams to the Atlantic 10 title last spring, and in 2016 she was on the Varsity 4+ boat that placed second in its flight. As a sophomore, Reilly was on the Second Varsity 8+ boat that won its flight at A10s and helped Rhody place second overall.
"I felt very prepared for the intensity of camp because of the coaching staff at URI," Reilly said. "Coach Donohoe and (Associate Head Coach) Jess Lizzi hold the team at URI to a high standard and expect us to perform at a high level every day."
While Reilly said her approach to both rowing at URI and para rowing are the same, there are some innate differences between the two.
"In para, there may be differences in how to make a boat fast to account for differences in rowers either visually or physically," Reilly said. "For example, it takes a lot more verbal communication when you're rowing with someone who is visually impaired."
To get through the challenges of selection camp, Reilly found strength in her para teammates.
"My favorite part has to be the teammates and friends that I have gained," Reilly said. "I have met incredibly inspiring people who motivate me to push my limits and then some."