The Women’s Gymnastics Team

Creating a New Start

Above every other practice, the women’s rowing team values teamwork. Lily Papaleo, the captain of the rowing team, said the sport demands a high amount of strength and endurance, as well as working with other teammates.

Papaleo fell in love with rowing years ago and has not looked back since.

 “I started rowing as a freshman in high school and got hooked on the competitiveness and camaraderie involved in the sport,” Papaleo said. “I knew I couldn’t give it up, so I only looked at schools with rowing teams.”

Papaleo is a senior at Temple majoring in strategic communications with an organizational leadership concentration. She can be described as competitive and committed, which she uses to help lead the team.


All team members are also motivated students and athletes, which lead to a successful fall season that kicked off with three wins at the Navy Day Regatta.

A day of practice for the team consists of strict warmups.

 “We usually do long, extended pieces up and down the Schuylkill and try to get around eight to ten miles in. Indoors, we focus more on time than distance — we do about 60 to 120 minutes of cardio,” Papaleo said.   

Team captains are chosen based off their leadership skills and ability to support their teammates.

 “Our coach often asks, ‘Who would you want in charge if for some reason all of the coaches were not available?’” Papaleo said. “We act as a liaison between coaches and rowers.”

Success is not achievable overnight. The team had to identify its strengths and abilities before the season started. Winter is a crucial time for the team.

 “The most motivation comes during the winter when we are indoors because it’s definitely the most mentally challenging period of time for most rowers. [Head Coach] Rebecca Smith Grzybowski says that it’s okay to feel scared going in, but she and the other coaches remind us that anything is possible if you are willing,” Papaleo said.


Grzybowski was on maternity leave during the beginning of the season. The team compensated by leaning on each other for support and guidance.

 “Our teammates were flexible with all the changes that were happening and having multiple interim coaches. I think everyone did a great job rolling with the punches. However, Rebecca is very much the emotional and mental foundation of the team,” Papaleo said.

The team’s philosophy contributes to its success.

 “Our general philosophy is, ‘with each other, for each other.’ Teamwork is probably the most important component to what we do,” Papaleo said. “Rowing is not like other sports where there are star players that possess a specific strength or skill. Boats are only successful when every rower is in complete synchronization with each other.”

written by naderah brooks

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