Freshman Rower Named 2011 Athlete of the Year

Sept. 14, 2011


University of Kansas freshman rower Bailey Atkinson has been named the Sunflower State Games 2011 Athlete of the Year. Atkinson, a Tecumseh, Kan., native earned the honor after rowing this summer with the Topeka Rowing Association.

In order to be chosen as a recipient for this award, an athlete must show outstanding achievement and good sportsmanship both on and off the field of play by embodying what the Sunflower State Games represent, living a healthy lifestyle through participation in sports.

Atkinson took home three gold medals this summer in the rowing competition, while finishing her fifth year with the Topeka Rowing Association.

Throughout her high school career, Atkinson earned more than 150 medals, three of which were National Club medals. Atkinson brings great upside to the University of Kansas rowing team.

Little did she know, it was Atkinson’s parents that nominated her for the prestigious award, but she’s glad they did.

“I know a few rowers that won the award in last few years and I look up to them, so it’s a great honor,” she said.

KU head rowing coach Rob Catloth couldn’t be more excited about the potential Atkinson possesses.

“She brings experience because she has rowed at a high level already,” he explained. “She’s had some good wins in her career and she’s from a really small team so I think training in the team atmosphere is only going to help. With her background, I think she’s only going to get faster as time goes on.”

The coaching staff expects big things from Atkinson, but don’t expect them to put a bulk of the load on the first-year collegiate rower this early in her career.

“We want her to learn and progress,” Catloth said. “We want the freshmen to come in and contribute, not necessarily come in and try to fix anything, and I think she can do that.”

Atkinson knows if she continues to put in the time and effort only good things will come, but for now she’s still learning.

“Right now I’m just a freshman,” Atkinson explained. “I’m learning everything different because everyone teaches the sport in their own way. Hopefully in four years I’ll be a force to be reckoned with.”

Atkinson and the Jayhawk rowing team kick off the fall season in less than a month (Oct. 1-2) in Oklahoma City, Okla., at the Head of the Oklahoma.