Olivia Thornley finds friendships through crew


Olivia Thornley

Olivia Thornley has been a part of crew since her freshman year, but is fully focusing on it for her senior year.

Senior Olivia Thornley cannot stay away from the water.

After being a part of the swim and dive team at FHC for three years, Olivia left the swim program to fully focus on another aquatic sport: crew.

“I liked [swim], but I enjoyed crew, overall, a lot better,” Olivia said. “And, I’d never done fall season. So, I thought it’d be fun to do that.”

Olivia joined the crew team during her freshman year, but since the swim and dive team took up so much of her time, she wasn’t able to get the full experience. When deciding which sport to focus on during her senior year, the team aspect played a major role. 

While not all of her friends are a part of the crew team, Olivia has made her deepest friendships with those that are. 

“I really like the team overall, like the girls and our boats and stuff,” Olivia said. “We have a really good bond and connection. We clicked right away. It’s nice because there are not really cliques within the team. We all get along really well.”

These connections that Olivia makes with the rest of the team are partly fueled by activities outside of regular practices and regattas. 

It’s nice because there are not really cliques within the team. We all get along really well.

— Olivia Thornley

The team has a few team-bonding activities and get-togethers and also has a special way for younger members to connect with the older ones. 

“We have these things called novice sisters,” Olivia said. “So, novice is obviously your first year. We’ll give our novice sisters rides, or sometimes little gifts before a regatta, just to support them and tell them that everything’s [going] to be okay.”

Novice sisters allow for the bond between crew members to grow as new members have links to join the group. 

Another way that Olivia’s bond with her teammates and love for the sport grew was through her trip to Nationals last year. Olivia was a part of the boat that placed seventh in the nation. 

“It was really stressful just because we knew that all of the other teams that we were going up against were club teams,” Olivia said. “And so, they practice all year long. They’re more competitive, and we’re just a high school team. So, it was really stressful, but I think we were just excited to be there, really.”

The actual race may have been stressful for Olivia, but the trip will always be a good memory for her to look back on. 

“We rented a big charter bus,” Olivia said, “and we drove all the way to New Jersey for Nationals. And then, my boat got seventh in the nation. Then to celebrate, I guess, we got to walk around New Jersey, which was really fun. We got to go to a bunch of different stores and walk downtown.”

Olivia recounts this trip as one of her best memories from crew. By joining the team freshman year, she created strong bonds and discovered what it feels like to be a part of a bonded team. 

Olivia clearly wouldn’t trade this team experience for the world, or any other team for that matter, and encourages others to join the team.

“I would say you should do [crew] because it’s really fun,” Olivia said. “It’s a great workout. I was not expecting it to be this hard. You just think, ‘oh, it’s just rowing a boat,’ but there’s so much more that goes into it like strength and technique. The team aspect is amazing. Everyone’s so kind and funny on the team. Everyone has this amazing connection.”