Inside the Shell with Sophie Doughty
May 10, 2012
CORAL GABLES, Fla.–Coming from an all-boy’s rowing team, Sophie Doughty has tough skin and a drive to be the best. The freshman coxswain from Marblehead, Mass., already sees the U as her home. Here is her story.
I started rowing in high school after my friends convinced me to try it. I’m a coxswain, the one who steers the boat. I started out as a rower but I was a bit small, so they moved me. I’m a control freak, so being a coxswain works out really well.
As a coxswain I execute the race plan. I call where other boats are, and how far into the race we are. I call the shots.
The University of Miami has everything I want: architecture, warm weather and rowing. I fell in love with the campus on my official visit. All of the ladies were amazing, and I was on a boy’s team in high school so coming to a women’s team was nice and different.
On a guy’s team as a coxswain it’s really harsh. They have no problem telling you that you’re not good. Getting a compliment from a guy’s team is very difficult. It gave me a tough skin and prepared me for a lot, especially with my architecture major. Women are more open: if you do well in a race they have no problem telling you.
When I look back on my childhood I always think of my family. My mom and dad have always been so strong in my life. They’re great parents and are so loving and caring. They’ve always guided me in my decisions.
My brother is a junior here, and that’s what originally sparked my interest in coming. He is very protective of me. I wasn’t allowed to visit him because he didn’t want me to meet any boys.
My team is together. We’re all good friends and I feel like I could talk to any of them. We’re very open with one another.
Living in Miami is awesome. I love the culture and all the people I’ve met. It’s so diverse.
My coaches are great. They’re nice and accessible. When you go to talk to Coach Carter you think you’re going for 10 minutes, but it ends up being an hour and a half. You start talking about a race and it ends up being a physics lesson. He’s very technical about everything.
Rowing has helped me with my teamwork. As a coxswain you’re the leader of the boat, so it’s helped me become a team leader. Also, I’ve learned time management, especially here with my architecture classes.
Fay Gilbert is my roommate. I’d say she’s the funniest person on our team. She has a great sense of humor, and I love her sarcasm.
After a race I like to go off on my own. I’m not good with having people around me. Especially if something goes horribly wrong, I like to think about it for a little bit and then talk to people about what happened.
I miss my dogs a ton. I also miss the atmosphere in Boston. I used to drive into the city for my practices, and it’s such a pretty city. But I don’t miss the cold!
I look up to my mom because she’s a great person and stays pretty centered. In a bad situation she’s level headed and has a great way of saying things. If I have a problem she tells me how to handle it.
My dad is from South Africa. It’s really cool, and we have a lot of family there. We always go on safaris there. I held a baby leopard once.
I’m looking forward to Dad Vail. I’m glad we have two weeks to prepare for it. It’s hard having a race every week because you barely have time to practice in between. I think we can really build in the next two weeks and do well in our final race.
The U is my home. My family is moving down here. I’m so happy here. I’ve never been so happy before.