Marysville High School graduate Maddie Frendberg displays her medal for being a member of a Big Ten championhip team in the the sport of rowing. She was a part of The Ohio State University women’s rowing team that claimed a conference title this spring.
(Journal-Tribune photos by Tim Miller)
Marysville High School graduate Maddie Frendberg went from being a high school district champion in one sport to a Big 10 champ in another all within a year’s time.
Frendberg, a 2016 MHS grad, was a member of the Lady Monarch softball team that won a Division I district title and finished as regional runner-up during her senior campaign.
She then entered The Ohio State University to study animal science in the pre-veterinarian program.
Frendberg knew she wasn’t going to play softball on the collegiate level, but was still “looking for something to do.”
Shortly thereafter, she discovered the sport of rowing.
“I didn’t know that rowing was even an NCAA sport,” said Frendberg. “I learned about it last summer during freshman orientation.”
During that time, members of the OSU women’s rowing, or crew, coaching staff were in search of potential participants.
“One of them approached me at orientation and said that I looked athletic,” said Frendberg. “They wanted to know if I would give it a try.”
Frendberg said she attended a meeting in which between 300 and 400 women expressed an interest in joining a program that generally fields less than 30 athletes.
Frendberg’s potential rowing career, though, nearly ended just as her interest began to grow.
“I’m only 5-4,” she said, “They like to look for taller people with longer wing spans for better rowing.”
The rebuff did not discourage the former Lady Monarch outfielder.
“I realized I was interested in rowing, so I mustered up the courage to go talk to the coaches after they had eliminated me because of my height,” she said. “They gave me 30 seconds to convince them to give me a tryout.
“I told them I wanted to be a part of this,” said Frendberg. “I have done rowing exercises as part of my workout routine before. I took the physical and then showed them I could do it.”
Frendberg earned her way onto a program that won a Big Ten women’s championship this past spring season.
As such, she put in a lot of hard work to quickly climb the ladder.
“We train about 20 hours a week,” said Frendberg. “I knew it was going to be a lot of hard work and a lot of it would be mental.”
During the season, Frendberg’s day would consist of awakening at 4:45 a.m. in order to arrive at Griggs Reservoir near Upper Arlington for 6:15 a.m. workouts.
Those sessions lasted until about 8:45 a.m.
She would head to classes at 10 a.m., have lunch, go to two more classes (as part of her 16-hour academic load) and be back for another practice at 4 p.m.
Those later sessions lasted until early evening and on some days, Frendberg would have another class from 8-10 p.m.
“I went to football games and other sporting events, but I really did not have much of a social life,” she said. “I did find some time to sleep.”
The Lady Buckeyes won the 2017 Big Ten title and finished fifth in the NCAA tournament.
Frendberg, who started out as a novice, began in the “bowel” seat of her boat on the third varsity eight. By the time the Big 10 tournament rolled around, she had been promoted six places to the stroke seat.
Her long wing-span (which equals to someone 5-8), she said, was the reason for her rapid advancement.
Frendberg, who said she plans to stick with the sport for the next three years, added she has learned a good deal from her freshman experience.
“It has taught me time management and how to stay organized,” she said. “It also taught me how to push myself to do something I enjoy.”
Frendberg said that after the coaching staff’s initial denial, she also learned how to step up and express herself.
“I guess my message to anyone else is don’t be afraid to step out of your shell and go after something you want,” she said.
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