Monongalia River


A boat of WVU rowers competes on the Monongalia River last spring.

Being a part of a sport here at West Virginia University is not always easy. Athletes deal with problems in both their sport and in the classroom. Sometimes this causes complications for those young students they just cannot escape from.

This is not a problem for WVU rowing member Elizabeth Kantak.

She strives to be both successful on the water and, more importantly, in the classroom. Both things mean the world to her.

Kantak is a four-year member of the rowing team, but her success did not start in Morgantown.

Kantak went to school at St. Pius X Catholic in the outskirts of Atlanta, where she spent most of her time on the Roswell water. During her high school career, she joined the prestigious St. Andrew Rowing Club.

Over her years there, she earned many awards, including the Most Improved Oarswoman in 2010 and finally the Top Coaches Award in 2012.

During these years, Kantak really learned the effort one must put into rowing.

"There is no one to pick up your slack, so you have to be incredibly disciplined, mentally, in order to experience all the pain of racing and still be able to push even harder when the time comes," Kantak said.

Due to her success in high school, WVU coaches knew how big of an impact she would make as soon as she hit college. Kantak’s freshman year was a chance to prove a point, to say the least, and she did not disappoint.

Being a leader of the varsity team her freshman year, Kantak was part of the First Varsity 8+ that earned Conference USA Boat of the Week honors after its fifth-place finish out of 34 crews at the Knecht Cup.

Next, she was part of the First Varsity 8+ that earned Big 12 Boat of the Week and Conference USA Boat of the Week honors for its first-place finish against Alabama and UCF.

All of that took place in the span of two weeks. She had already made a huge impact.

Kantak has continued her success not just on the water, but also in the classroom. She has been a part of the All-Big 12 Academic Team since her freshman year.

Throughout her years of rowing, she has brought WVU’s rowing team into a positive light.

Kantak’s top priority is not her individual success. For her, it’s all about the team.

"When we focus on what we can do rather than what we can’t do, we have the potential to accomplish quite a lot," Kantak said.

Now a senior, Kantak knows her role on the team and knows how important it is not just to lead but also to share the knowledge of the sport she loves to the teammates she loves.

"We have that added responsibility of passing on our knowledge to the girls who will continue to be here and help the team grow once we are gone," she said.

Kantak will continue being successful on the water for the Mountaineers, but after her time is up, look for her to move on to something else to strive for.