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New Kensington native to row at Division I Delaware

| Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, 10:36 p.m.
New Kensington native Juliana Fellowes, a senior at Oakland Catholic, has signed with Division I Delaware for crew.

Juliana Fellowes still isn't sure what went through her head during the spring of her sophomore year.

Why she wanted to give up rowing and run track instead remains a mystery. Perhaps burnout was to blame, she said.

Fortunately, the idea was short-lived in the mind of the New Kensington native, who returned to rowing after about one week away from it and continued a career that ultimately gave her a way to help pay for college.

Fellowes, a senior at Oakland Catholic, signed with Delaware Friday for crew to complete a whirlwind four-year process in which she went from a rowing newbie to a Division I talent. She will receive a partial scholarship.

“I never really thought I'd be committing and going to a college for rowing,” Fellowes said.

Her rowing career started oh-so simply. She arrived at Oakland Catholic after transferring from St. Joseph in the middle of her freshman year. Some friends in her history class told her they needed girls for winter training.

At her first winter workout session, Fellowes and her teammates went through a strenuous yoga routine. A fitness-buff in search of a team sport environment, Fellowes fell in love.

While she enjoyed the indoor training on the rowing machine, known as an “erg” in the crew community, Fellowes found even more joy once she and the rest of Oakland Catholic's team took their eight-person boat out to Millvale for races in the spring.

Her passion for reaching finish lines before others probably contributed to her brief affair with track and field. But Fellowes missed the synchronized team dynamic present in rowing.

She recommitted to rowing with a newfound seriousness. As a junior, she started to research colleges and initiated her own recruiting process, a fairly normal procedure in the crew community.

This past spring, she was in the stroke seat — the rower closest to the coxswain — in Oakland Catholic's eight-person boat, which qualified for the Scholastic Rowing Association of America national championships for the first time and reached the semifinals.

“It just means I have a good rhythm and that the other girls can follow me,” Fellowes said of her seat position.

As her senior year began, Fellowes, one of the Oakland Catholic rowing team's two captains, narrowed her list of school choices down to Delaware, George Mason, Ohio State and Syracuse.

She visited Delaware in June and considered the campus a strong selling point. She made her official visit Oct. 17 and 18 and received a scholarship offer from the Blue Hens a week later.

“It really hasn't sunken in yet,” said Fellowes, who committed a few days after getting the offer.

Fellowes is the latest Alle-Kiski Valley to go Division I in rowing. A year ago, Lower Burrell native David McFall signed with Princeton after a strong career at Central Catholic.

McFall's sister, Julie, is a junior at Oakland Catholic and one of the rowers who looks to Fellowes for leadership.

“She's the one that organizes us all, setting up practices and stuff,” Julie McFall said. “Our program is pretty-time consuming, so she'll be prepared for Delaware.”

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at wwest@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.

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