Renee Rockett was recently selected as one of 40 rowers around the country to attend the U.S. Rowing Development Camp and train at the U.S. Rowing U19 Women’s Training Center in New London, Connecticut. The training, which took place from June 18 to July 9, was a select opportunity for youth rowers like Rockett, 16, to showcase their abilities in front of coaches and peers at the national level and try out for a spot on the 2019 or 2020 Junior National Team.
The training was followed by Rockett racing at what is known as the Club Nationals Competition in Camden, New Jersey, from July 12 through July 15. For this competition, Rockett was selected to race in the Women’s U17 8+ where she ended up winning first place with her boat, earning a gold medal. Rockett would also go on to race in the Women’s U17 4+ where she ended up winning third place with her boat, earning a bronze medal. Additional accolades from the competition included Rockett taking fourth place in the Women’s Intermediate 8+ and sixth place in the Women’s Intermediate 2-.
According to Rockett, there are three team levels when it comes to rowing: development, high performance and selection. Originally, Rockett was set to be on the development team during her time in New London and Camden, but during day one found herself being promoted to the high-performance team.
Despite her training in New London and her performances in Camden, Rockett was not selected to join the 2019 or 2020 Junior National Team during her invitation to compete and train this spring, but being only 16, Rockett expressed that there’s more to look forward to than there is to look back on.
“I was happy with my performance,” Rockett said.
As a part of the Sammamish Rowing Association (SRA), Rockett earned her invitation for the opportunity back in February when her team went to the Seattle identification camp. It was there that she tried out along with about 60 other girls from all over the country at a two-kilometer time trial event, during which she was evaluated and observed by various coaches and peers in attendance. It wasn’t until April that Rockett would eventually hear of her selection to train and try out for the U.S. Junior National Team.
“I was off the walls,” Rockett said. “It was even cooler getting there and meeting everybody.”
Originally from Michigan, Rockett has been at home in Sammamish for the past seven years where she has attended Skyline High School for the past two years. Rockett initially took up the sport of rowing during her freshman year because of one of her brothers, Adam Rockett, who was already a rower. In 2015, Adam ended up qualifying for youth nationals his senior year of high school in the Lightweight 8+ and for Rockett, this sparked a motivation of her own.
“I remember him coming home and he was talking about what he had to do and how hard it was,” Rockett said. “That made me want to do it.”
When Rockett is training, she is training almost every day. Since 2016, Rockett has been training and competing with the SRA year around. For most of the year, spanning from late August all the way up until early June, Rockett trains Monday through Friday where she can be seen at the Sammamish Rowing Boathouse located in Marymoor Park. There, she typically practices every day for about three hours in the late afternoon and even on certain weekends before regattas.
Rockett’s journey with the sport of rowing and her multiple accomplishments has inspired members of her family to try and follow in her footsteps. Her mother, Denise Rockett, has especially taken the sport of rowing head on after watching Renee accomplish so much in such a rewarding sport.
“I saw the camaraderie that the girls had within their boat,” Denise said. “I thought this would be a great way for me to connect with Renee, work on my fitness and enjoy the Pacific Northwest.”
For the next two years, Rockett will be leaving Skyline High School and attending Bellevue Community College as a Running Start student. Although Rockett didn’t make it onto the Junior National Team this past spring, being invited to train and try out was an achievement.
“It was definitely the hardest thing I think I’ve ever done,” Rockett said.
With her experience at the high-performance level during this year’s recent training and competition, Rockett is looking forward to getting invited to train and try out again next year and has big plans to make it onto the selection team next time around. As she continues to move forward with her training, Rockett’s primary goal is to keep on moving up, so that she can turn more heads next year in hopes of making it onto the Junior National Team one day.