Sophie Gower’s love for basketball is only fitting given where she will be continuing her promising rowing career.
The Grade 12 South Delta Secondary student has officially committed to Duke University, beginning next September. The junior national team member signed with the North Carolina school that is noted for its powerhouse hoops program that has produced the likes of NBA stars Kyrie Irving and RJ Barrett.
Gower was weighing offers from at least nine other U.S. schools before deciding on Duke where the honour roll student and SDSS student council co-president plans on studying Public Policy.
“I chose Duke because of their history with athletics and the amazing academics in the school because that is really important to me,” explained Gower, who made her official visit back in September. “The school was actually not at all what I expected. It reminded me a lot of B.C., surprisingly. The campus was really big but the student body is actually pretty small. It was pretty cool."
Gower dreamed of being a college basketball player until her athletic career took a turn at 13 when she joined the Delta Deas Rowing Club. Her potential led to her coach encouraging her to enter her test times into the Rowing Canada data base.
Her passion for the sport continued to grow and the opportunities too after participating in the RBC Training Ground, a testing program that identifies potential national team athletes. Gower showed well enough at the Richmond Olympic Oval hosted B.C. section to advance to the national finals in Calgary.
“That’s where I got recognized as a Next Generation Athlete,” she continued. “I was able to start training out of the B.C. Next Gen camp.”
That led to Gower representing Canada at last summer’s World Junior Rowing Championships in Bulgaria. She is now training out of the UBC Boathouse in Richmond with the Thunder Rowing Club.
She will soon play her final season of competitive basketball at the high school level with the Sun Devils.
“As much as I enjoyed basketball, it’s more like a hobby now,” she smiled. “It’s been nice because rowing has been so intense. Obviously, playing on the school team is not just for the fun. But the different movements, it's really helpful compared to rowing which is basically the same movement that is really dynamic. It’s been great for my training.
“My mom played basketball and also was a rower so that’s kind of neat.”
Duke’s rowing season consists of a few events in the fall, including the famed Head of the Charles in Boston, before continuing in the spring, leading up to the ACC and NCAA Championships.