BY RICH PALZEWIC
SUAMICO – Bay Port senior Sophia Thibert has had a very successful high-school career swimming and running track for the Pirates, but she won’t be competing in either of those sports in college.
Despite never competitively rowing before, Thibert signed her national letter of intent Feb. 28 to join the UW-Madison lightweight crew team starting this fall.
“It’s still a little hard to believe that I’ll be rowing,” said the 5-foot-7 Thibert, who is a four-time WIAA state qualifier in swimming and two-time qualifier in track. “I plan on going to a rowing camp this summer and I’ve done some rowing on the erg machine. I’ve gone to some day camps where they taught the fundamentals and injury prevention. They said I could row a little bit on my own but not do that as my main form of training – they don’t want me to develop any bad habits.”
Thibert, who wants to be a nurse anesthetist, has the physical traits that rowing coaches look for – she’s long, strong and has good endurance.
“I had gotten letters from UW the last couple of years saying that I should come to their camp because they noticed me as an athlete,” she said. “I never thought too much of it at first, but when I started getting more letters during the summer going into my senior year, I began to think about it more. I liked Madison as a school, so it made sense.”
Thibert also mentioned that she kept her options open to swim in college, but in the end the lure of a new sport with new challenges made her jump ship to the boat.
“I knew I wanted to be a part of a sports team in college,” she said. “Swimming is such a big commitment because it’s so repetitive and easy to get burned out on. I considered Mankato State University in Minnesota and UWGB for swimming, but I really wanted to branch out. Lots of people from Bay Port go to Madison – it’s a very exciting city.”
Before heading off to college and rowing on Lake Mendota, Thibert hopes to once again qualify for the state track and field championships in La Crosse this June.
“I considered not going out for track this year just, so I could concentrate on other things,” she said. “Lots of people had told me I would probably regret that decision, so I am hoping to have a good season. I look at track as kind of a break from all the swimming I’ve done.”
Although there are a lot of unknowns joining a sport you’ve really never done before, Thibert is looking forward to the challenge.
“I know it won’t be easy, but I will have an automatic support system of friends coming into it,” Thibert added. “I’m hoping for a new experience since I’m passionate about sports. I want to continue that through high school and college. I hope to do well and want to do something different. It’s bittersweet with my high-school career ending soon. High school sports are a lot different than in college, so I’m just trying to enjoy it.”
Sophia is the daughter of Jason and Janet Thibert, and has a younger sister Ella who is currently a sophomore at Bay Port on the swim and dive team.
Note: To read the senior spotlight on Thibert from earlier in the year, CLICK HERE.