It’s 5:30 a.m. and hues of the orange and yellow sky reflect off of Lake Las Vegas, welcoming silhouettes of the UNLV Rowing team to practice. While most students (and faculty) hit snooze on their alarms, the team ventures off into the water.
It’s early March, but winter is still making itself known this early in the morning. The boat picks up speed and suddenly, the 40-degree temperature and low winds that felt unnoticeable on land become strikingly apparent as your nose and ears start tingling.
The team seems unphazed as they glide their way across the stretch of water. Their oars dance in a pattern of such synchronicity that it makes the hour of strenuous practice look easy.
The team is split into two groups on the water— one eight-person rowing shell and another four-person shell. On the front of the eight-person shell sits Scarlett Baughman, facing the team as she guides them across the lake.
The senior hospitality major started rowing in high school and didn’t want to give it up in college. So she tapped into UNLV’s Registered Student Organization and found the rowing team among UNLV’s 350 student groups. Now as team captain and club president, she dedicates her time to making the team stronger.
“If there’s low morale or a lack of motivation, I have to look at what I’m doing, pivot, and make sure that I keep everyone’s spirits up,” Baughman said. “I see that as my primary responsibility, and I take it seriously.”
While Baughman is a seasoned veteran, the team welcomes anyone who is interested, regardless of experience level. Most of the team members joined this year and are novice to the sport.
Rowing in seat seven is anthropology senior Gabriella Graziano. She joined the team just last semester in September 2021.
“My advice to someone who wants to join the team is to just do it,” she said. “Rowing can be difficult at first but in the end, it is one of the most rewarding things I have done. Being able to join a sport where you feel like you are a part of community is special and the friends that you’ll make will make a lasting impact.”
Guiding the team is Coach Kayla Lankford from Lake Las Vegas Rowing Club (LLVRC). Though she didn’t start in the sport until her senior year of high school, opportunities soon flowed when she received a full-ride scholarship to Oklahoma City University, competed in the U23 world trials, and the World University Games in South Korea.
Her love for rowing translated well into a love for coaching, leading her to pursue it as a career. Now she dedicates her time to passing on the knowledge and skill she learned to a community of rowers just as enthusiastic.
UNLV Rowing traveled to Oregon for the Collegiate Covered Bridge Regatta on April 16, their first travel event as a team and earned third place in two of the day's events.
Interested in joining the team? Learn how you can get involved.