Emily Mahaffy (’20) commits to Rutgers University for rowing


Courtesy of: Rob Pungello

Emily Mahaffy (left) waves to the camera while rowing by.

Many seniors at Cherry Hill East have aspirations to attend college next fall of 2020. Among these seniors, Emily Mahaffy (‘20) committed to Rutgers University for rowing and feels ecstatic to be a part of Rutger’s rowing program.

Mahaffy began rowing the winter of her freshman year. Her parents encouraged her to try the sport, seeing how rowing positively influenced Mahaffy’s stepsister. Mahaffy said that her stepsister’s experience and her parents seeing that was the push for Mahaffy to try the sport. Mahaffy attended a practice for South Jersey Rowing Club (SJRC) where the members did cross-training to maintain fitness.

“ I just fell in love with it, and really loved the team,” said Mahaffy.

Mahaffy enjoys being able to stand as a leadership figure for her crew. She motivates her team to be faster and to go as fast as they possibly can. Mahaffy tries to maximize the entire process in order to make the fastest outcome possible.

“Very early on I came to really enjoy the role I was playing,” said Mahaffy.

Mahaffy plays the role of the coxswain in the boat. She is not physically rowing in the boat but rather the mental aspect of the team. People describe the coxswain as being a jockey their job being, as Mahaffy put it, to “whip the horses into shape.”

Logan Denney (‘21) is a rowing friend of Mahaffy and shares an everlasting passion for the sport. Logan describes rowing as his favorite things in his life.

“As a coxswain, [Emily] is my favorite that I have ever had,” said Denney.

At the Tennessee regatta, Emily served as Denney’s coxswain for both the four and eight-person boat – check out the page. Her motivation calls make the boat significantly faster, said Denney. Racing with Mahaffy for the first time was one of Denney’s best races he’s ever had.

As a student who came to Cherry Hill East during her freshman year, Mahaffy did not represent herself as well as she wish she had, being the new kid at school. Rowing acted as the basis for building Mahaffy’s self-confidence.

“Being in control the first day forced me to toughen up,” said Mahaffy.

Mahaffy was promoted early on as a coxswain. By her sophomore year, Mahaffy was coxing for the  senior male’s team. She says that some of her best friends have been through rowing and she has had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people through SJRC, which recruits high schoolers from all over the area to row. The combination of rowing and coxing has become such a major part of Mahaffy’s life and personality.

Mahaffy said that the stereotype of a coxswain is one who assumes the position without gaining the respect that goes behind it. Mahaffy strives to gain respect from her rowing crew and lead them in an effective way by spending time being a constant learner of the sport and keeping an open mind.

“I get such a rush from racing and practice in general and its fun to be fast,” said Mahaffy.

Rowing for Mahaffy is one of the best and hardest things she has ever done. But nothing beats that sense of racing and being neck and neck with another boat, said Mahaffy.

Mahaffy plans to keep up rowing all four years in college at Rutgers University, where she will be coxing a girl crew.

On her official to Rutgers, the defining moment for Mahaffy was witnessing the girl’s energy. The fastest girl finished and cheered on the next rower, and by the time the last girl was rowing, a whole crowd was cheering her on to finish.

“This is the kind of team atmosphere I want,” said Mahaffy, “And It makes me excited that I can help build the team.”