"One Last Roar" is a series that will recognize the accomplishments of the senior student-athletes at Mount Holyoke College graduating during the 2020-21 academic year. From now until May, read about our senior student-athletes as they reflect on their careers as members of Lyons Nation. Make sure to check out Mount Holyoke College Athletics on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to see photos of their top memories with their teammates over the past four years.
Senior Casey Roepke (Burlingame, Calif.) is pursuing a Politics and Physics double major and interdisciplinary pre-professional track in Journalism, Media, and Public Discourse. A varsity rowing student-athlete at Mount Holyoke College, Roepke will graduate at the completion of the Spring 2021 semester.
Roepke was a member of the Lyon's varsity eight that took 14th out of 27 boats at the Head of Charles Regatta® in the fall of 2019. The 14th-place finish was the highest for the Mount Holyoke rowing program since the fall of 2011. As a sophomore, Roepke was also a member of the varsity eight team that ranked 14th-nationally in Division III and took sixth in the Petite Finals at the 2019 New England Rowing Championships. That same year, the varsity eight also placed second in the Third Level Final at the National Invitational Rowing Championship. Roepke is an editor for Mount Holyoke News and is a Class Senator.
From Head Mount Holyoke Rowing Coach, Seth Hussey:
Overall, share a few sentences about your time as a student-athlete at Mount Holyoke College. How has your experience as a student-athlete helped develop you into the person you are today?
My experiences with Mount Holyoke Athletics as a member of the rowing team for all four years have been an integral and pivotal aspect of my college experience. I was not a competitive athlete before college—in fact, I was a dancer in high school, so competing was not a familiar feeling. The rowing team taught me how to be competitive not only when racing against other teams, but to compete against myself and push myself to be the best I can be. Learning how to strive for improvement and success every morning was such a valuable experience, and I have carried this skill over to other aspects of my life. Now, nearing the end of my Mount Holyoke rowing career, I know that I am a much more confident, competitive, resilient, and mentally strong person than I was when I started.
What were some of your favorite memories as a member of your team?
Rowing is a really intense sport with a really intense schedule—when we're in season and on campus, we would be waking up at 5 a.m. almost every day to get our practice in before the first slot of classes. I always looked forward to the moments just after we finished the hard workout when we would gather as a team to pat each other on the back, give shoutouts, and then walk over to the Dining Commons for breakfast together. "Team Breakfast" was absolutely one of my favorite parts of rowing because it was a time for my teammates and I to get to know each other, make each other laugh, and commiserate over our shaky legs and sore muscles!
What are your plans following graduation?
This summer, I will be participating in the SPS (Society for Physics Students) Public Policy Internship at NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology). This internship will provide me with the opportunity to use both of my majors, Politics and Physics, and gain mentorship and professional development through the National SPS organization!
Who have been some of your biggest supporters during your time at Mount Holyoke College? This can be anyone (i.e. family, friends, professors, coaches, etc.)
My teammates were incredibly supportive on and off the river. Whether it was in the boat or erg room, in the classroom, on Student Government, or in the radio station, I knew I would have a fellow rower in the room with me.
My professors have also been so supportive and understanding over my time at Mount Holyoke. I can say definitively that I would not have been confident enough in myself to declare a Physics major if not for the amazing professors who listened to my fears and convinced me to believe in myself. The faculty at Mount Holyoke care more about my performance in the classroom, and my professors were constantly asking me about how rowing practices were going, which made me feel really seen and integrated into the classroom community.
Lastly, my coaches have been a constant source of support throughout my college experience. Seth joined Mount Holyoke the same year I did, and it has been so amazing to watch him reinvent the rowing team and culture. Cara has been an incredible resource for me, and I love talking to her about her own memories of Mount Holyoke as an alum. I am so grateful to both of them.
What is your favorite Mount Holyoke tradition?
I love so many of the larger-scale traditions, like Mountain Day or Convocation, but my favorite Mount Holyoke tradition is a small one—the library stairs. The library atrium has a set of stairs that splits into two, and the tradition goes that each staircase is reserved for two class years. I love this quirky little tradition because every time I was in the library, even if I was in a rush to class or to print out a paper, I had to choose to follow in the footsteps of my Mount Holyoke traditions. It reminds me that, even in the most mundane moments, I am part of the Mount Holyoke community.
Any words of advice you have for the future student-athletes of Mount Holyoke College?
Rowing at Mount Holyoke was one of the best choices I made in college, but it was certainly challenging and intense. I would tell future student-athletes to develop a routine early on in the transition into college and to lean on teammates for community and support.