Profile: Pioneer’s Lydia Schaafsma combines hard work with teamwork to find success 


Lydia Schaafsma is rowing towards the end of her time both at Pioneer High School and inside the boat. While she doesn’t plan on rowing in college, she is looking forward to her senior year helping keep the Pioneer rowing team on its steady course of success.

So, let’s start there. What makes Pioneer rowing so successful? For that answer we turn to Schaafsma, one of the captains helping steer this year’s team.

“We work well together as a team because we spend so much time together,” says Schaafsma. “Everyone works really hard, and we’re dedicated to the success of our team and Pioneer Crew.”

The daughter of Nancy Vanderkuyl and Jim Schaafsma, Lydia says she loves being part of the Pioneer crew team. But there are challenges inside and outside of the boat.

“It does have its ups and downs,” she says. “It’s a physically and emotionally demanding sport, but it can also be really rewarding. I look forward to seeing all of my teammates every day. We’re very close and get along great.”

Rowing is the only sport with two seasons – one in the fall and the main season in the spring. Schaafsma says the fall season doesn’t have concrete goals like there are in the spring.

“As a team, we aim to build our strength and continuously improve our performance at all our scrimmages and regattas,” she said. “Individually, we each have our goals for 6,000 meter erg tests.”

And so far, the fall season is rowing right along for the Pioneers.

“It’s going well,” Schaafsma says. “This season we only have two big regattas and then several scrimmages. The first regatta was Frogtown in Toledo and everyone on the entire team earned a medal, which was exciting. Our next big regatta, and also our last, is in two weeks. It’s on Lake Leelanau up north. This is a new venue for our team, so hopefully it will be a good experience and not unbearably cold.”

The 17-year-old first started rowing after giving a few other sports a shot.

“In middle school I ran and swam but I wanted to try out a new sport,” she said. “People suggested that I participate in the trial row in June, so I did and that sparked my interest. I joined the crew team my first semester as a freshman at Pioneer.”

She takes her role as a team captain seriously and with great pride.

“I’m really excited about being a captain this year,” she said “To me, this means that I have a responsibility to make everyone feel included on the team. This year we have 20 novice girls (more than recent years) and 17 varsity girls. I see myself as a captain who leads by example and is friendly to everyone.”

After high school, she hopes to attend college and pursue her interests in architecture and design but is still exploring other options.

As for rowing?

“I’m not planning on rowing in college because it’s a big time commitment, but I know I will miss my team and the sport a lot,” she said.

Spoken like a captain.


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