Rowing head coach Wendy Davis has announced that Erika Berg (Carnation, Wash.), Maddy Bourgeios (Whitefish Bay, Wis.), Debbie Brzozowski, (Pattersonville, N.Y.), Cassie Drozynski, (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Ilana Ostrin (Culver City, Calif.) have signed National Letters of Intent and will join the Golden Gopher program in the fall of 2008. Davis’ recruiting class is her largest signing in the history of the Gopher rowing program.
“This is by far our deepest and biggest class that we have signed in the history of Golden Gopher rowing,” Davis said. “We were able to sign some of the best athletes from all regions and it shows how far our program has come in such a short time. Potential athletes are starting to recognize our program as a contender and we couldn’t be more excited about it. Although we have signed this class, we still have room for what Minnesota has been made up of, which is home-state talent. We still have some scholarships available to take advantage of the talented women who are already here at the U.”
Erika Berg competes with the Sammamish Rowing Association. This past fall, her eight medaled at the Head of the Gorge, the Head of the Elk, and the Head of the Lake Regatta. She is the Gophers first signee from the Northwest, and says that, “It is so exciting to be part of Gopher sports and contribute to the winning tradition that Coach Davis is building,” Berg said. “I am thrilled to be part of such a great organization. When people ask me, “Why Minnesota?” I simply tell them it just fits. Even though I’m looking forward to our spring season I can’t help but have an eye towards next fall.”
“Erika is only in her second year as a high school rower, yet she has accomplished a great deal,” Davis said. “We are very excited to have such a wonderful person coming from an excellent program in the Seattle area. She is a perfect fit in her abilities as a student-athlete and her outgoing personality. I am very confident Erika will enjoy all aspects of her collegiate career as a Golden Gopher.”
Maddy Bourgeois is a state qualifier in swimming and helped lead her high school squad to 2007 victories in Wisconsin’s Small School State meet, Sectional meet, before finishing second in their Division II teams at the 2007 state championships in Madison, Wis. She learned to row by erging with her neighbor, 2004 Olympian Danica Holbrook-Harris, and is looking forward to a new career in rowing with the Gophers. Her goal for this winter, in addition to more work on the erg, is to continue swimming for the Schroeder YMCA and to qualify for the Y-National meet in the 200 and 500 Freestyle as well as the 200 Backstroke. “As a distance swimmer, I look forward to bringing my dedication and drive to a championship team and having company along the way,” Bourgeois said. “Meeting the coaches and future teammates made making the U of M my No. 1 choice an easy decision. I know I'll get a great education and look forward to the challenges that lie ahead.”
“One of the strengths of our program relies in our ability to coach and teach our excellent walk-on athletes the sport of rowing,” Davis said. “Maddy is just such an athlete and an excellent distance swimmer. She taught herself to row because she lives next to a river and thought it would be fun to learn. She brings a wealth of athletic talent that we get to mold into a wealth of rowing talent. We cannot wait to work with Maddy next year.”
Debbie Brzozowski learned to scull with the Mohawk Homeschool rowing team, and is looking forward to joining her older sister, Becky, on the Minnesota roster. This past summer, Debbie was invited to train with the USRowing Junior Women’s Development Camp, and also had the chance to compete with her club at the Canadian Henley Regatta. Rowing is a family tradition for the Brzozowzski’s. Her parents met while competing for Rutgers, while sister Becky, a member of the 2007 Big Ten Championship squad for the Gophers, is a junior.
Cassie Drozynski competes for the Mt. Lebanon Crew Club. She trained and competed this past summer with the USRowing Junior Women’s Development Camp in New London, Conn. At the 2007 Club National Championships, she earned a silver medal in the Development Camp’s top four, and a bronze in the Women’s Intermediate Eight final. "I am really excited to be joining a team on the rise,” Drozynski said. “What set Minnesota apart from the other schools was the nationally recognized athletes and coaching staff. I can't wait to join a group of people who love the sport and are ready to work hard to establish a name for themselves."
“ Cassie is a solid rower with a cardio base that will help us immediately,” Davis said. “However, what’s most important is that Cassie brings a great work ethic and a great attitude to the team. I am looking forward to the next four years with Cassie.”
Ilana Ostrin is a fourth year coxswain with the Marina Aquatic Center, and has spent the past two summers training and competing with the Chicago Rowing Center’s USRowing Senior Women's Development camp. She won the 2006 Head of the American in Marina’s Varsity 8, and won a silver medal at the 2007 National Club Championships with CRC. Six-time National team coxswain Michael O’Gorman at the 2006 and 2007 USRowing Senior Women’s Development Camp also coached Ostrin. Excited to be a Gopher, she says that, "Minnesota is a place I can see myself growing as a coxswain, and as a person. I was not only attracted by the highly regarded reputation and speed of Minnesota rowing, but was captivated by the relentless dedication and hard work that defines this team. I am incredibly honored to be taken into the Gopher family."
“Ilana is embodies everything we look for in a varsity coxswain,” Davis said. “She is bright, articulate, aggressive when she needs to be and has a nice sense of humor to round everything out. We think Ilana will be a major factor in our pursuit of excellence.”