Aspen-raised rower to represent US at world university championships
Growing up in Aspen, Valen Fey spent most of her time hiking and skiing. Playing on the water wasn’t really her thing.
But this weekend in China, she’ll get to prove to the world how it’s become her thing.
“I never did any kayaking or anything. Not much of a water person at all,” Fey said. “I never thought I would do an endurance sport like rowing and I’ve fallen completely in love with it.”
Fey, who is a senior at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., is representing the U.S. this weekend at the World University Rowing Championships in Shanghai. A volleyball player throughout high school, she took up rowing after being accepted into GW and hasn’t looked back in the now three years she’s competed in the sport.
“It’s not that big of a sport, so it’s kind of a smaller community and I just fell in love with the sport instantly,” Fey said. “The feeling of the boat, it’s amazing when you feel that swing. Everybody is in unison. I never thought I would pick an endurance sport. I liked the power, I liked seeing your opponent, like in volleyball.”
Fey was born in Denver but moved to Aspen with her family when she was 5 and attended the Aspen Community School. Midway through her freshman year at Aspen High School, she returned to the Front Range where she graduated from Denver East High School. Her family still lives in Denver, although Aspen holds a special place in her heart.
“Growing up there was a pleasure. I think it’s had a lot to do with me being an athlete,” Fey said. “Aspen Community School had a huge impact on my life. I loved going to a small school and outward-bound school like that. It taught me many lessons that I kind of take to rowing, too.”
Fey is part of an eight-woman team competing in China. Her teammates come from varying universities across the country and they recently won a national title at the 2018 U.S. Rowing Club National Championships in New Jersey.
Beginning Friday and running through finals on Sunday, that same group will get to go for a world championship against the best university rowers the planet has to offer. Despite having what they feel is an underdog status, they have high expectations.
“We are kind of the national team rejects,” Fey said, only half joking. “We got the national title at club nationals, so now we are going for an international title. I’m really, really excited. I cannot wait. This group of girls we have, we are ready to go. We’ve been working all summer just for this moment.”
Fey, who is majoring in psychology and minoring in nutrition at George Washington, plans to try out for the U.S. national team following the competition in China. Rowing is a sport she plans to take with her long after college.
“I love how hard we work,” she said. “We train hours and hours and hours a day just for seven minutes a race.”
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