By By Dan Fappiano
07/06/2022 05:21 p.m. EST
As she grew up on the water and gained experience in boating, Alexis Massey decided to join the crew program in her freshman year at Valley Regional High School. Alexis has dedicated herself to becoming a better rower over the years, earning the role of captain as a senior and leading to her compete in crew at the collegiate level for Franklin Pierce University.
Alexis’s family has a cabin in New Hampshire that sits right on a lake. Alexis grew up as a boater and obtained her boating license at the age of 12. Alexis’s family currently lives in Deep River and owns a small boat that they call Barb.
With that background, it made sense for Alexis to give crew a try. Alexis made that decision as a freshman and soon realized that the sport gave her a different point of view when she was out on the water.
“I love being on the water. It’s very relaxing,” says Alexis. “It gives me a clear mindset. I’m with the team, but I’m in my own space and I can focus on the stroke and my timing. Crew offered me a different perspective.”
Alexis learned a lot about the sport from Valley’s former coach John Laundon during her freshman season. Laundon told Alexis that she had potential and encouraged her to keep pushing through. From December to March, Alexis worked indoors on a rowing machine as she prepared for her transition into high school crew.
Alexis adapted quickly and was ready to compete as a novice after her first two days practicing with the Warriors. Rather than have JV and varsity teams, Valley crew has boats one through four with the first boat typically captained by upperclassmen. In her freshman season, Alexis was in Valley’s fourth boat.
Alexis says that it was intense as she worked hard to hang on to her spot. However, the competition sparked a passion in Alexis, who was determined to prove that she deserved to represent the Warriors.
“It was nerve-wracking, especially because you could lose your spot so quickly. It’s very competitive,” Alexis says. “It’s a team sport, but you’re all against each other. Luckily, it’s a competition where we all support each other. You really had to go and work really hard to keep your spot.”
Alexis’ sophomore season was canceled due to COVID-19 and then her junior campaign was limited as the sport looked to return to form. During her time away, Alexis spent a lot of time running and working to get into peak shape. Alexis knew that the Warriors had lost a lot of seniors and wanted an opportunity to row on one of the team’s top boats as a junior. Alexis was determined to put in as much work as it took to get there.
“I just have a lot of drive as a person. I was supported by my coaches and knew I had what it takes to be a good rower,” says Alexis. “With my strength, I wanted to put it all out there and see what I could do with it. With those qualities, I had what it takes to be successful.”
Alexis recently finished her senior season with the Valley crew program. After earning her chance to row on the team’s top two boats as a junior, Alexis remained a full-time varsity rower in her senior season this spring.
Alexis rowed in the third seat for the Warriors. It’s a seat were both power and finesse play pivotal roles. Alexis loved being a third-seat rower for Valley and feels that role highlighted her strengths in the sport.
“It’s my favorite seat in the boat. The middle two—second and third seats—are the powerhouse seats. Those are the strong rowers,” Alexis says. “I loved being in that seat, I was able to put it all out there. I was able to give a lot back to the boat with my strength.”
On June 5, Valley competed in the Emerson Regatta in Middletown. At the meet, the Warriors’ girls’ top varsity boat consisting of junior Erin Brennan, senior Brooke Lavigne, Alexis, and sophomores Mika Carlin and Kayleigh Mackenzie finished in first place. Valley turned in several strong performances that included a few other first-place finishes the day. The regatta marked the final competition of Alexis’s high school career, and it was rewarding for her to see how all of the Warriors’ hard work had paid off.
“That was really amazing. It was amazing to see our team come together like that,” says Alexis. “We struggled in the beginning. We had a lot of new rowers. We were really starting brand new. To put in the work and time during the season, get to that last regatta, and have so many successful wins was really rewarding.”
Alexis served as one of Valley’s captains alongside fellow senior Zach Kirla this year. One of the reasons why Alexis enjoys crew so much is because it allows her to see people from different walks of life. Alexis felt honored to lead the Warriors as a captain and was inspired to see how much everyone in the program has grown.
“It was a lot of fun. There’s not a stereotypical rower. We got a lot of people from a lot of different groups. There’s just a lot of variety and personalities that make it really fun,” Alexis said. “We had a group that was dedicated and wanted to work hard. We saw a lot of growth in rowers. It was rewarding to look back and see how far we had come as individuals.”
This season, Alexis was mentored by Valley’s first-year Head Coach Ashley Malinovsky. The Warriors’ coach says that Alexis is a dedicated rower and who always helped the team navigate through any choppy waters.
“We had a tough start to our season, but Alexis never wavered. She’s a very mature and dedicated rower and helped me, as a new coach, get through the initial learning curve,” says Malinovsky. “It will be tough rowing at the college level, but Alexis has the commitment and fortitude to be a strong member of the team. I look forward to seeing what she will accomplish.”
Now that she’s graduated from Valley, Alexis will be rowing crew at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire. When Alexis was a freshman, Laundon told her that she would be competing in college one day. Alexis is glad to be living out Laundon’s prediction and that her efforts are allowing her to continue her career at the next level.
With years spent on the water, Alexis already had a big interest in boating when she joined the Valley crew program. It was then up to Alexis to put in the work to improve as a rower, and she accomplished that goal and then some over the next four years. Alexis feels proud to be a part of the Valley Regional crew and enjoyed every second that she spent competing alongside her Warriors’ teammates.
“It was really special for me to be able to be involved in such a great program,” Alexis says. “I’m grateful for the people I had to support me through it.”