Annabel Phipps-Parsons, (Class of 2023) and the 2023 Sports Captain, is set to embark on an exciting journey this August as she heads to the United States to pursue her passion for rowing. Annabel has received a rowing scholarship to the University of Alabama, a significant achievement that underscores her dedication to sports and her potential as a rower.

We spoke with Annabel about this incredible opportunity and her journey to earning the scholarship.

Annabel’s passion for rowing began at Korowa’s rowing program. As she recounts, it was the Director of Rowing, Jane Robinson OLY, who played a pivotal role in introducing her to the sport. “Jane recruited a large group of girls from our year level in our junior year,” Annabel recalls. “The coaches taught us all how to row from scratch in a fun and supportive environment, which helped us develop a love for the sport and grow as athletes.”

Annabel found the experience at Korowa to be thoroughly enjoyable. “With the exception of the 2 km erg tests, rowing at Korowa was always fun for me. Kidding—it was always great getting PBs in our 2k ergs!” she jokes.

Annabel is quick to highlight the unique aspects of rowing that make it so special to her.

“I truly believe that one of the main reasons I enjoy rowing as a sport is that, in contrast to other sports, rowing allows you to build and strengthen the most incredible connections and bonds with your teammates. When you push yourself to limits you never thought possible, you naturally discover new aspects of yourself with your friends. Those relationships are so important to everyone!”

The camaraderie and sense of teamwork are among the many reasons why Annabel fell in love with rowing. Racing against other schools during regattas was another highlight for her, offering both competitive excitement and the chance to meet other like-minded athletes.

When asked about the process of applying for the scholarship, Annabel emphasises the importance of having a strong support system. She credits Jane Robinson for guiding her through the complex application process. “Jane mentioned to me that going over to the USA was an opportunity that I could grasp and commit to if I really trained,” Annabel notes.

The application process involved reaching out to various American colleges, engaging in Zoom calls, and even in-person meetings. “A large part of the application process was sending through updates on how my rowing and training was going,” she says. After receiving several offers, Annabel chose the University of Alabama as the best fit for her both athletically and academically. “Jane deserves a huge thank you for her amazing assistance during the entire process,” she adds.

Annabel is considering a course in speech pathology or health-related fields like midwifery. “Since the American college system is far more flexible than the Australian one, I’ll take some classes I enjoy during my first year and then narrow it down to a more specialised program and course afterward,” she says.

Annabel is excited about the new opportunities that await her in the USA, but she’s also aware of the challenges ahead. “I’m extremely excited for the large range of new opportunities on offer—traveling to different states for regattas, meeting new people, attending a college with amazing facilities, and pushing and testing my own sporting abilities,” she enthuses. “Obviously, I’m nervous about moving to a different country and leaving home, but I acknowledge that it is such a great opportunity that will significantly better me as a person in terms of my independence, resilience, and confidence.”

We wish her all the best.