Clements, Kansas Rowing Set to Begin Postseason at Big 12 Championship
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The University of Kansas rowing team has concluded its regular season racing schedule, and with only two guaranteed races left this season, the Big 12 Championship and Conference USA (C-USA) Championship, senior Catherine Clements is embracing the approaching end to her collegiate career.
“Every practice I go to, I see my friends or old pictures and I get all nostalgic and sentimental,” Clements said. “I have always had this support system since I have been in college. That is what I have been thinking about the most.”
Clements, born and raised in Lamar, Mo., is one of the unquestioned leaders of the Jayhawks. As the coxswain of the First Varsity Eight boat, she is counted on to ensure her boat maintains focus and moves at an optimal speed.
As a former basketball and volleyball athlete at Lamar High School, Clements has been in all types of competitive situations. However, she believes that rowing offers a different dynamic than her previous sports ever could.
“It is indescribable when a boat moves well exactly how much everyone has to be on the same page,” Clements said. “I feel it is a much more extreme level of competition. There is no other feeling like it.”
That competitive edge has helped Clements guide the First Varsity Eight boat to seven top-three finishes, and 11 overall top-10 finishes this season. The ever-improving coxswain has seen a considerable jump in the ability to lead her boat, and the Kansas coaching staff has witnessed the transformation in Clements.
“A coxswain has to be organized, know the race plan, know the athletes and needs to know how to push them,” head coach Rob Catloth said. “Pushing the athletes is something outside of her natural personality, but she has worked very hard to improve on that.”
One of the best victories of the season for KU and the First Varsity Eight could not have come at a better time. Kansas hosted the inaugural Jayhawk Jamboree in the fall, the first true home regatta for the Jayhawks since 2005 and first since the creation of the University of Kansas Boathouse. The first varsity eight came out and kicked off the beautiful day in strong fashion.
“We won our race in front of the home crowd which was exciting for our team,” Clements said. “It was great to get people out there to see our beautiful boathouse and get reacquainted with the Kansas River. I felt it was a great event for the city of Lawrence.”
Clements has always had a special place in her heart for Lawrence, Kan., and the University of Kansas. Growing up in the heart of Missouri Tiger country, she always remained a fervent supporter of the Jayhawks because of her grandfather, an alumnus of KU.
Her grandfather was a chemical engineer that grew up in an economically-challenged environment. Clements has heard many stories of how her grandfather worked his way from very little to owning his own company and becoming a self-made man.
“I wanted to come to KU because of my grandfather,” Clements said. “Seeing what he and my father have done makes me want to do even better. My grandfather instilled the belief in me that no matter what people tell you, you can truly do whatever you want when you put your mind to it.”
The senior accounting major has put her mind to being one of the most successful student-athletes at KU which is achieved not only in athletic competition, but in the classroom as well.
Clements was recently named to the C-USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll for the fourth time to go along with earning her third-consecutive C-USA Commissioner’s Academic Medal. She is also a two-time First Team Academic All-Big 12 member after carrying a 4.0 GPA throughout her entire collegiate career.
She is currently completing the Masters of Accounting program at KU, and has already secured a job at the Hallmark Headquarters next year in Kansas City. But her focus remains true to the team and the goals at hand.
The Jayhawks, led by Clements and the First Varsity Eight, are looking to make some noise this postseason and improve on last season’s victory in the Fourth Varsity Eight and second-place finish in the Second Varsity Eight. KU placed third overall at the 2013 Big 12 Championship, and placed three rowers on the All-Big 12 First and Second Teams.
Kansas will get its opportunity to ascend the Big 12 rankings on Saturday, May 3, in Oklahoma City, Okla.
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