On Sept. 6, just four days before the start of Wellesley Crew’s fall training, the Wellesley Athletics department announced that former team member Sydney Dollmeyer ’17 would be returning to Wellesley as an assistant coach. Dollmeyer accomplished much during her time rowing for Wellesley; she rowed on Wellesley’s first-ever boat to win a national championship in 2016, and was named a CRCA All-American that same year. She was also a two-time All-Seven Sisters honoree, made four NCAA appearances and graduated Wellesley with a degree in Economics and International Relations.
Dollmeyer’s athletic merits, however, do not even begin to capture her path from her senior year of high school in 2010 to her acceptance of an assistant coaching job at her alma mater in 2019. According to Wellesley Crew Head Coach Tessa Spillane, “Over Dollmeyer’s trajectory at Wellesley there was exceptional growth, and her ability to be a great teammate as well as a great boat mover came at a really important time for our program”. From joining Wellesley Crew’s novice program in 2011 to sitting in an NCAA boat four times over the next six years, dabbling in investment banking and then coming back to the sport she grew to love at Wellesley, Coach Spillane said “her perspective as a member of the coaching staff will be really valuable.”
Dollmeyer was the only person who Coach Spillane recruited to the team without any rowing experience whatsoever. Dollmeyer visited Wellesley during her senior year of high school, and met with several rowers and Coach Spillane. After the visit, she received a letter of recommendation from Coach Spillane and was welcomed to the team as a recruit.
Dollmeyer rowed a full fall season with the novice team with former novice coach Austin Work, who she described as “a character” and said that “he was super excited about the sport, which really rubbed off on me.” During spring break of her first year, she was seat raced for varsity boats, and ended up finishing the season in the first varsity boat (1V). The team placed third overall at NCAA’s that year. Dollmeyer said, “I really knew nothing about rowing at one point, and I was just this little young person in this older boat, having the time of my life.”
She rowed for Wellesley again during her sophomore fall, but then took some time off from the team and tried out rowing for Community Rowing, Inc. (CRI), just down the Charles River from the Wellesley boathouse. She then took some time off from being a student at Wellesley for personal reasons. She returned to Wellesley in the fall of 2015, and after taking some time to get her feet back under her, started training with the crew team again after their fall season. The spring of 2016 was the season that Wellesley took home their national championship, and Dollmeyer sat in the 1V again. She described that spring season as a “wild experience rowing with the seniors who I had met as first years my first year fall.” At 22, Dollmeyer was only one of two people out of her original incoming class remaining on the team, as the others had graduated in 2015. She came back again to finish her last semester in the fall of 2017, and after graduating in December of 2017, worked at NEPC, an investment consulting firm in downtown Boston for a year and a half before returning to rowing. “I realized that I really didn’t like sitting at a desk for eight to twelve hours a day and that investment consulting wasn’t my culture. I thought about what brings me joy and what brings me life, and the answer was rowing,” Dollmeyer said about her decision to pursue a career in the rowing world.
Dollmeyer became part of the Institute for Rowing Leadership (IRL) at CRI in June of 2018, where she was in an intensive program taking classes and doing a practicum as a volunteer assistant coach for Northeastern’s women’s program where she coached the third varsity boat. Over the summer of 2019, before coming to coach for Wellesley this fall, Dollmeyer coached and worked at a series of rowing camps.
About working with Coach Spillane, Dollmeyer says, “Tessa coaches how she is as a person. She’s very genuine, so that taught me that you can get good results if you’re a kind and caring person who is very humble. She puts a premium on team culture.” Over her years rowing at Wellesley, Dollmeyer says she learned what it meant for a team to take care of each other. One of Dollmeyer’s real strengths as a coach according to Coach Spillane is “her awareness about and appreciation for mental training and mindfulness and the calmness you can bring to the water.”
Dollmeyer is excited to be back at her alma mater helping the rowing program to maximize on the team culture that she knows so well. “The Wellesley population is very self-selecting because the people at Wellesley are so motivated and dedicated. Within that population is an even more self selecting group that chooses to do crew. Wellesley produces self sufficient and knowledgeable rowers who are positioned well to train so they know the ‘why’ behind the ‘what.’”
The crew team will compete in its first race with Dollmeyer as assistant coach on Oct. 12 at the Head of the Housatonic.