Minneapolis native Kalmoe makes sacrifices to compete

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 27, 2012 - 6:42 AM

Kalmoe's website displays the writing skills of an English and Latin major, which she was, signing off on every blog post with, "Long Live The Dream."

hide

Megan Kalmoe, second from right, with other members of the U.S. rowing team, is focused intently on her goal of winning an Olympic gold medal.

Photo: Allison Frederick , USRowing

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

When Megan Kalmoe was born in Minneapolis, her mother held her to a hospital window so she could see the rowers gliding on the Mississippi.

When Kalmoe was 9, she looked out the car window on a family trip, pointed at the University of Washington, and said, "that's where I want to go to school.''

Kalmoe no longer requires windows to see her future. Now she works in an open-top vehicle.

After growing up in St. Croix Falls, Wis., Kalmoe attended Washington, joined the rowing team as a novice after her freshman year, and became an Olympian.

Her double-sculls team finished fifth in Beijing. Her quadruple-sculls team won a silver medal at the 2011 world championships. She'll compete starting Saturday in London to try to win a medal in a sport she barely knew existed when she was young, even if her mother loves telling the story about the hospital window.

"At Washington, they told me that if I joined the team I'd get in great shape and be part of a great legacy," Kalmoe said. "It all sounded great. Then, once you're in the boat, it's one of the most awkward feelings you'll ever have."

Kalmoe, now 28, acclimated quickly. After spending her freshman year "getting good grades, partying, having fun, and getting fat," she began honing the muscles and timing of an elite rower with the outstanding Washington program.

After her third season of college rowing, she was selected for the national under-23 developmental team. Typically modest, she didn't think she'd make the team. She did, and it won the world championship in its category.

"I was like, I didn't know this existed at this level," she said. "I told myself, if I have the opportunity to do this again someday, I'm definitely going to take it. Turns out that meant moving to Princeton and training with the senior national team. One day I graduated, the next I was taking the red-eye to New Jersey."

Her rise to the Olympics and the story and idyllic settings for her workouts obscure the difficulty of her pursuit. Rowing is grueling to begin with, and Olympic rowers find it difficult to support themselves.

Kalmoe works at a local YMCA. She and her teammates hold endless fundraisers. She solicits support through her website (MeganKalmoe.com), where she displays the writing skills of an English and Latin major, which she was.

She's far more excited about her trip to London than what she'll find when she returns.

"I will have a lot of debt waiting for me when I'm done with rowing,'' she said. "I haven't decided yet whether I'm going to continue. The USOC does play a big part in making sure we have the resources that we need in order to travel and compete. But our budget is tiny, and I don't know if it's even a small fraction of what other teams are working with, the teams we consider successful -- Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Germany, the powerhouses."

The National Rowing Foundation, which is affiliated with the national team, tries to help. The rowers hold jobs even while training fulltime. And they hold fundraisers to help pay for health care, groceries and vehicles that can carry sculls to the practice facility.

"I live month-to-month,'' she said. "I don't have any money to set aside, for savings or for when I'm done with rowing. The first couple of years here I was training but wasn't receiving a stipend from the USOC, so I accrued a lot of debt. I don't ever tell people that with the intent of complaining or making people feel bad for me. This is the lifestyle I chose. We go into this knowing we'll never make a bunch of money by rowing, so you just try to make it a day at a time, a month at a time, a year at a time.''

Her mother, Mary Martin, watched her daughter participate in just about everything available to her while growing up. Megan played three sports, played alto sax in the band, painted, wrote and became student body president at St. Croix Falls.

"The thought certainly had never crossed my mind, that she would become an Olympic rower," Martin said. "As a family, we didn't really know what rowing was. What I can say about Megan is she's very determined and if she decides she's going to do something, she will do it."

As she prepares to compete in London, Kalmoe yearns for a medal and scrambles for financial support, signing off on every blog post with, "Long Live The Dream."

  • related content

  • Megan Kalmoe,

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
Toronto 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 98
Boston 6 1st Qtr 5:16
Washington 18
Orlando 15 1st Qtr 4:11
Charlotte 13
Memphis 6:30 PM
Miami
Indiana 7:00 PM
Brooklyn
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Chicago
Atlanta 7:30 PM
Milwaukee
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
Utah
New York 9:00 PM
Sacramento
Minnesota 9:30 PM
Golden State
NY Islanders 1 1st Prd 9:56
Buffalo 0
Detroit 0 1st Prd 12:46
Ottawa 0
Carolina 0 1st Prd 11:13
Tampa Bay 0
New Jersey 0 1st Prd 11:46
NY Rangers 0
Boston 1 1st Prd 11:17
Columbus 1
Winnipeg 0 1st Prd 14:46
Minnesota 0
Washington 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Dallas 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Nashville
Anaheim 7:00 PM
Arizona
Chicago 8:00 PM
Colorado
Edmonton 9:00 PM
Calgary
San Jose 9:00 PM
Los Angeles
Indiana 87 FINAL
Georgetown 91
Maine 43 FINAL
Seton Hall 72
UNC-Wilmington 82 FINAL
Minnesota 108
Georgia State 61 FINAL
Green Bay 78
Jacksonville St 61 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Kentucky 58 FINAL
Louisville 50
Northern Ky 55 FINAL
Northwestern 76
UAB 58 FINAL
North Carolina 89
IUPUI 55 FINAL
Pepperdine 53
Santa Clara 60 FINAL
St Marys-CA 73
Oakland 56 FINAL
Maryland 72
Gonzaga 47 2nd Half 17:31
BYU 49
Mercer 33 2nd Half 10:27
Georgia 39
San Francisco 47 2nd Half 11:21
Pacific 48
Wright State 8 1st Half 11:30
Ohio State 20
Presbyterian 6 1st Half 11:30
Virginia Tech 14
Brescia 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Tennessee St 7:30 PM
Tennessee
Kennesaw St 8:00 PM
Illinois
Colorado State 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Portland 8:00 PM
San Diego
Wayland Baptist 8:05 PM
Utah State
Bristol University 8:05 PM
Weber State
Sacramento St 8:05 PM
Utah Valley U
Southern Utah 9:00 PM
UNLV
SD Christian 9:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 21 4th Qtr 13:00
Penn State 14
(25) Nebraska 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Florida
SMU 45 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 96
UCF 64 FINAL
Houston 50
BYU 62 FINAL
Gonzaga 78
Pacific 92 FINAL
San Francisco 54
St Marys-CA 62 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
San Diego 7:00 PM
Portland

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite Gophers head coach?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close