Q&A with Mary Cait McPherson
Freshman coxswain Mary Cait McPherson has taken hold of the coxswain duties of the first varsity eight boat early in her collegiate career, coxing the top boat in all but one race this year. The 5í2Ē Brigantine, N.J., native recently took some time out of her class and practice schedule to sit down with TexasSports.com and talk about her role as a coxswain.
In its most elementary state, how would you explain coxing? Coxing is the brains of the operation. The coxswain steers the boat and we see everything that everyone in the boat is doing. We keep the boat going in terms of motivating the rowers.
How did you get into coxing? Itís a family thing. My uncles and my sister coxed, and I started coxing in seventh grade with my middle school program. I havenít stopped since.
Where did your uncles compete? One of my uncles coxed at Northeastern University, where he was a lightweight rower. My other uncle was a lightweight rower at Marietta College in Ohio, which is also where my sister coxed.
Whatís the hardest thing about being a coxswain? The hardest thing is being friends and joking with the girls off the water, and then taking control in the boat and leaving all of the joking behind.
Do you think being a good coxswain comes naturally or is it something that can be learned? I think you can definitely learn, but it also takes a really strong personality. You have to be the type of person that can get to know people, learn how to read them and know what to say to fire them up.
Have you ever run a boat into anything? Yes I have. We row in the bay in Brigantine, which is really windy, and one time my crew got caught in a storm. The winds became so severe that we couldnít row and had to bring our boat back to the dock. When I was trying to dock the boat, we got completely blown over and crashed into a huge boat at another dock. The boat was brand new, and it was only the third time we had taken it on the water. Thankfully there wasnít much damage.
How do you prepare for a race? Before races, there are probably a billion thoughts running through my head about the boat, the girls, the race, the water and the other crews. I always go over the race plan and our strategy in my head a few times, and then I like to look over the course map if I'm not familiar with the racecourse. I usually try to hang around with the girls who are in my boat while they're stretching and getting ready for the race. It's a good time to get them pumped up and help them get in the right mind set.
Are there any races you are looking forward to or any crews specifically that you are eager to race? I'm really looking forward to all the races this year because this will be the first time I get to cox on a variety of different courses. More specifically, I'm really looking forward to our race in Boston this year because we'll get to race against a lot of amazing crews. The Charles River Classic is also the closest race to my home in New Jersey. My family is going to make the trip to Boston to watch the race. Itís always awesome to hear your family cheering from the banks of the river.
How did you make the decision to come to Texas? I was looking at a lot of schools in the Philadelphia area, but Iíve lived in the northeast region my entire life, so I figured it would be a good time to make a change. My coach at the time ran into head coach Carie Graves a couple years ago, and thatís how the communication began. She started talking to me about the program during my junior year of high school.
Whatís your favorite thing to do in Austin? Honestly, I love going to Jasonís Deli. The little corn muffins at the salad bar and the chocolate mousse are so addicting. A few of my friends and I will go there fairly often.