The Junior National Team coaches chose Levy from a group of rowers after attending a three-week long selection camp at the beginning of the summer. She was invited to attend the selection camp after participating in an identification camp earlier in the spring.
“While I was [at the selection camp], I was competing with about 50 other girls to make one of 20 or so spots on the Junior National Rowing team. I would say that selection camp was very stressful, given that it was a lot of hard work, and there was a lot of pressure all the time. The coaches were watching you at every practice, and you were basically competing with everyone around you, so it was a very weird environment and took a while to get used to,” said Levy.
Once selected, Levy’s team trained multiple times a day in Princeton, N.J. in preparation for the Championships.
“Once we moved to Princeton, we were still working really hard and pushing ourselves everyday, but the environment was a lot more friendly… Most days were basically just practice, eating, and sleeping, but everyone on the team bonded a lot during that time, so it was a lot of fun,” Levy said.
According to Levy, transforming eight individually strong rowers into a cohesive team was the goal of the camp.
“We all got really close and made a lot of fun memories in Princeton [that] we carried with us to Japan. It was a nerve-wracking experience, but we wanted to keep each other calm and confident, so it was nice to have those close relationships,” said Levy.
Levy’s team arrived in Tokyo a week before the race to become acquainted with the course.
Levy said, “[Our race] was at a brand new course, and it is where the Olympics are going to be held next year for rowing… We got to train and race there, so it was just a great overall experience.”
There were five boats competing in the women’s-eight event, and the first race was an exhibition race to determine the lanes. The countries racing were the United States, Italy, China, Russia, and Germany. Levy’s boat placed second during the exhibition race with a time of 06:22.630, just 0.640 seconds behind Italy.
“We placed second by a fraction of a second, so it was a really good race for us and we were pretty confident going into the final. Our coach kept telling us we want to go for gold, but any boat on that course could get gold. We could just as easily come first as we could come fifth, so we weren’t cocky about it. We didn’t think we had it in the bag but we were confident going into the final,” Levy said.
In the final race of the event, the team placed fourth with a time of 6:37.930, just falling short of a podium position in the last 200 meters of the race.
Levy said, “Our final went really well, and we had a good race, but in the last 200 meters of the race Italy came from behind and got us by a few seats which put us in fourth. Even though we didn’t get a podium we were all really happy with the race and summer as a whole.”
Levy attributes part of her accomplishment to the background she gained from competing on Andover Girls Crew for the past two springs.
Levy said, “If it hadn’t been for Andover, I don’t think I would have made the team at all because Andover is a great place to train, work, and be a team member…The coaching I had at Andover also really set me up well to not make too many mistakes.”
According to Andover teammate and coxswain Sofia Garcia ’21, Levy is the ideal rower, who she believes will continue to be successful in the future.
“Mia is not only an incredibly dedicated, powerful, and extremely skilled athlete, but she contributes so much to the positive team environment we have. She is always the first one to say that it was a good race or pass a high five down the boat, it is really awesome to be in a boat with her. She is on her way to accomplish so much, and the fact that she went to Junior Worlds is a tiny testament to that and only the beginning of the incredible things she’s going to do,” said Garcia.
Head Coach of Andover Girls Crew Ellen Minzner believes that Levy was able to accomplish this feat because of her natural talent, hard work throughout the year, and different methods of training.
“Mia is capable of learning from both her wins and her losses, and I think that was likely a key factor in her earning her spot over some other talented and hardworking athletes at the selection camp…She has long-term potential to work her way into some very successful US Women’s Olympic teams, and so this for her is only the beginning. She is just getting started,” wrote Minzner in an email to The Phillipian.
Levy hopes to incorporate the lessons she learned this summer into the Andover Crew program this spring.
“[On the Junior Worlds Team], we really discovered that any anxiety or lack of confidence in the boat can really affect a race or practice, so I really want to bring the idea of confidence in our abilities and training to Andover Crew this spring. We all know how to row, and we have done it before, so I hope that [this season] we can really believe in our boat and training, which will really help the team mentality and team ability,” said Levy.
Editor’s Note: Mia Levy ’21 is an Associate Copy Editor for The Phillipian.