2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist and Dad Vail Champion Natalie Dell Q&A
2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist and Dad Vail Champion Natalie Dell Q&A
By Clara Lefton
Now a 2012 Olympic bronze medalist in the quadruple sculls event, Natalie Dell began her rowing career as a walk-on for Penn State Crew. A high school state medalist in track, she was searching for a team sport and found her niche. Dell spent from 2003-2007 at Penn State, and in 2006 had an undefeated season and won a gold medal at the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta. Recently, she became the first Penn State rower to ever even enter the Olympics for the sport.
Question. Can you share a bit about your undefeated 2006 season at Penn State, as well as your win at the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta?
As a club team, the Dad Vail was our biggest race of the season. Our program wasn’t competitive enough to field an eight so we specialized in the smaller boats. Although many programs choose to focus on eights, our undefeated success in the women’s four was a big stepping stone for our club. Winning the Dad Vail with Ann, Tracy, Kathleen and Kelly remains one of the best moments of my rowing career because we achieved something that had always eluded our program. I’m convinced that after the race, you couldn’t have found five happier and prouder people on earth. I’m getting married this fall and although it’s been eight years, the whole boat will be there – which speaks to the depth of the bond we made.
Q. Did you ever expect to win an Olympic medal growing up?
Oh goodness, no. It was the product of years of setbacks, hard work, occasional success and continued personal evolution. I also never expected to meet such tremendous and driven people as the women and coaches of the National Team. Even a week before the Olympics, I was still developing my physical and mental abilities with the help of my teammates and coaches. Although I put in a lot of the work, without my teammates and coaches I wouldn’t have accomplished anything.
Q. Are you continuing to train as a National Team member since the 2012 Olympics?
I’m happily retired from rowing. When I graduated in 2007, it was with competing career, graduate school and rowing aspirations. I balanced the three by making a promise to myself that I would commit to getting as fast as I possibly could by the 2012 Olympics. I gave myself one shot, all or nothing, and like so many other aspiring elite rowers, exhausted myself to achieve that goal. When we crossed the line at the Olympics, I had knew I had given everything –mentally, physically, financially, personally – towards helping the United States win a medal. And although I miss my teammates and play armchair quarterback as they pursue their second or third Olympics, I feel content in what I accomplished. In my wildest dreams, I never thought such accomplishments could have been possible.
Q. Do you have any hobbies outside of rowing?
While training, I worked a mental health research scientist for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Now that I’m retired from rowing, I’ve assumed a more challenging (and exciting!) communications role for the agency’s research and public health divisions. Keynote and
motivational speaking is my passion though, and I enjoy traveling around the country as a corporate and nonprofit speaker. For a competitive outlet, I’ve taken up track cycling at San Jose’s velodrome and have enjoyed learning a new and power-driven sport.
Q. Does working with the Department of Veterans Affairs have anything to do with the degree you got at Penn State or what you studied there?
Yes, my undergrad degree was in communications, followed by an Masters of Public Health from Boston University. When I first graduated from Penn State, I was bummed that I needed a few years of development to be fast enough to train with the National Team (as opposed to getting in right after college). But the years I spent in Boston getting faster on the erg and in the single also allowed me to line up grad school and work experience – which ended up sustaining me financially once I finally did make the team. And now, the transition out of rowing and back into the working world was much easier with degrees and work experience already in place. In retrospect, I’m very fortunate that things worked out the way they did. Those years of early morning training, followed by working during the day and grad school at night were the hardest leg of my rowing career – but I proved to myself of exactly how badly I wanted to be a National Team athlete.
If I could offer any advice to club or lower division athletes who wish to train at the elite level: be proactive, productive and positive with the time it takes you to get fast enough for national team standards. Not fast enough out of college? Then put yourself on a deadline to hit important erg benchmarks and race results in small boats. Line up resources for yourself in case you do make the National Team. Make any sacrifice necessary to put yourself in the best possible position to succeed. Show yourself how much you want to make it.
Since participating in the 2012 Olympic Games, Dell has moved to Palo Alto, CA with her fiancé. She recently purchased her 2013 racing license and is working with the Giant Bike’s Liv Giant women’s program to get the necessary training to compete in the world of track cycling.
Black & White photo of Natalie Dell rowing: © 2012 USRowing.
Color photo of Natalie Dell with Bronze Olympic Medal: © 2012 Associated Press.
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Aberdeen Asset Management PLC (Aberdeen) is an asset management group, which invests as a traditional, fundamental investor on behalf of institutional clients, advisers and individuals globally across all major asset classes. Aberdeen has assets under management of approximately $314.3 billion (as of December 31, 2012). Aberdeen was established via a management buyout in the city of Aberdeen, Scotland in 1983, and today, operates in 23 countries around the world, employing over 2,000 staff. Aberdeen champions first-hand research and believes close teamwork is the best means to discover investments for their clients’ portfolios. Aberdeen is involved in sponsorships in which it can actively get involved and make a difference through an event, individual or team. Aberdeen’s current sponsorship portfolio includes both amateur and professional properties across a number of sports including, golf, sailing, rugby, field hockey and rowing. Aberdeen is also involved with a number of cultural and arts sponsorships.
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Content reviewed and published: 3/10/2013 9:07:49 AM
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