Unity and pride has been the theme for the Bates women’s rowing program under long-time head coach Peter Steenstra.

In the ultimate team sport, the Bobcats have displayed their unity and pride on the biggest stage, winning five national titles since 2015 at the NCAA Championship. Going into last month’s national regatta, Bates’ second varsity eight boat had won eight straight gold medals.

“This program is unique in our mindset, and in who we are,” says Ollie Young ’23 of Burlington, Vt., the second varsity eight three seat. “Being proud of who we are is something our class had to learn, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the last four years.”

The unity the program displays is more than just maintaining a consistent stroke rate. All year, the rowers wore patches on their uniforms displaying the Progress Pride Flag, which celebrates the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community and calls for a more inclusive society, a meaningful expression of support within the team, including for Young, who is a trans male athlete.

Supporting one’s teammate is engrained in the program. Young’s fellow senior in the 2V boat, coxswain Isabella Sobolewski of Washington, D.C., was feeling down after the boat’s disappointing first race at nationals, putting their gold medal streak in jeopardy. So he stepped up.

“I had a little bit of a moment where I was really disappointed and really crushed,” Sobolewski said. “He looked at me and said, ‘Listen, you have got this, we have got this, it’s you and me, it’s been four years, it’s going to be okay.'”

It was more than okay, as the second varsity eight rallied to maintain their gold-medal streak, and the Bobcats finished fourth as a team on the biggest stage of women’s rowing. And they did it, like they always have, with pride.