When Heidi Robbins ’13 arrived at Princeton, she never had tried rowing. Three years later, she is a standout for women’s open crew, helping the Tigers to a fourth-place finish in the NCAA Championships this season.
A solid high school lacrosse player, Robbins had no plans to participate in a varsity sport in college. But a chance meeting with a women’s crew coach at the start of her freshman year changed that.
Crew is a popular sport for college walk-ons, but new athletes rarely make the impact Robbins has, head coach Lori Dauphiny said.
Robbins rows in the first varsity boat, which placed first at the NCAA Championships last year and this season finished third at the Ivy League Sprints. Princeton has qualified for the NCAA Championships every year since the event began in 1997 and has placed in the top four in the past three seasons.
Last summer, Robbins, Kelly Pierce ’12, Gabby Cole ’13, and Nicole Bielawski ’13 represented the United States at the Under-23 World Championships in Amsterdam, a top competition for college-age rowers.
Robbins has shown she is a tough competitor even out of the water. At the “Crash-Ps” — a wintertime, 2,000-meter race for Princeton’s rowers on the indoor rowing machines — she was suffering from a stomach bug but still managed to come in first among the women. “I was feeling pretty miserable, but I was prepared to do whatever it took,” she said.