The home for coverage of all FHC athletics

FHC Sports Report

The home for coverage of all FHC athletics

FHC Sports Report

The home for coverage of all FHC athletics

FHC Sports Report

Senior Alexa Fauson, Division I commit to the University of Minnesota, is a beacon for FHC rowing


Senior Alexa Fauson grew up playing all the sports imaginable before starting to row.

“I’ve done a lot of sports out there,” Alexa said. “Growing up, I’ve tried basketball, soccer, volleyball, and tennis. I did field hockey through my sophomore year of high school. I’ve [also] been on a swim team.”

Alexa has expertise in many sports, but none managed to capture her heart like rowing did. In middle school, she tentatively joined a small rowing camp, encouraged by her dad, who was on Michigan State’s club rowing team in 1996. She did this in sixth and seventh grade when she first learned the logistics of rowing. Alexa recalled enjoying it immediately.

“I remember getting off the water after a little mini-race,” Alexa said. “And I was like, that was exhilarating. I love that.”

It was not over for her other sports yet though; Alexa continued to play field hockey up until her sophomore year, but never lost her piqued interest in rowing. She ended up joining the rowing team in her sophomore year and soon developed a deep passion for the sport.

Some sports are harder to love than others, based on the playing style, format of teams, rules, and more. This can make it tedious, especially for young kids who cherish it solely for the fun. However, Alexa never felt this way with rowing.

“I didn’t like all of it, [my other sports]” Alexa said. “But when I got to rowing season [in the] spring of my novice year, I never complained going to practice like I would soccer or basketball. So I was like, that’s what I want to do because I didn’t mind going, I like being there. I like the people.”

Alexa attributes her love for rowing to her dad, who was the catalyst behind her beginning the sport. As she began to dedicate more time to it, her parents’ encouragement allowed her to become successful.

Over time, her parents became more involved in the sport, motivated by Alexa’s love for it; Alexa’s parents are on the FHC Crew Board, meaning they manage regattas, schedules, and more. Alexa’s dad is also the race director of FHC’s home regattas and is the men’s coach for the team.

“It means a lot [to me],” Alexa said. “It means they really, really support me, and they’re not just showing up because they have another kid in the sport. They’re showing up because they care. They’ve actually made an effort to understand what I’m doing and drive me to practices when I was younger, or four hours across the state for a weekend regatta.”

Her dad’s own rowing history motivated him to become especially involved with Alexa’s rowing.

“My dad has been really supportive,” Alexa said. “But he’s also pushed me a lot. [On] the days where I wasn’t feeling good, he would be like, ‘I know you don’t feel good, but you’re not expected to get a personal record on this. You still just gotta show up and do your best for the day.’ So he’s been really nice and supportive. He’s pushed me when I needed it.”

Rowing consists of either sculling (each rower holds two oars) or sweep rowing (each rower holds an oar with both hands.) Sculling or sweep rowing can be done with either a pair of people, four or eight individuals. NCAA rules state that only boats with four or eight people can be raced, but at FHC, a pair can also race in a boat; although FHC mainly races fours and eights due to lower numbers since COVID-19.

While racing with only one other person can seem nerve-racking, and one may think that racing with a team would be more reliable, Alexa’s favorite type of race is a pair.

“It’s just really fun,” Alexa said. “It’s the hardest boat to row, but it’s my favorite because it’s just so much fun. It’s very relaxing because [sometimes] we just go paddle out in the river.”

The structure of rowing allows you to develop especially close bonds with your teammates as there is so much shared time in boats and on land—especially if you row in a pair, as Alexa does with senior Clare Sherman. Rowing’s practice schedule only leaves one day of the week for rest, and after spring break, they have a regatta every weekend until the school year comes to an end.

Because of this, Alexa has forged close relationships with people on her team she wouldn’t have if it weren’t for rowing: seniors Clare Sherman and Quinn Hane, who were in the same boat as her at Nationals in 2022, and last year when they placed second at states.

“I love showing up to practice [because of them],” Alexa said. “If I ever need to talk to one of them about something that’s bothering me, they’re always there, whether it’s crew-related or not. I’m glad I got to know them that way.”

Her support system both on and off her team has allowed Alexa to flourish in the sport. In just a couple years of rowing, she’s racked up many accolades to her name. At the Midwest Regatta her sophomore year, her boat—a JV eight—placed first, so she attended Nationals as a novice; she’s also attended prestigious national regattas outside of FHC, specifically the Canadian Henley. In the 2000-meter race, FHC’s first annual regatta of the season, her time is the fastest on her team: 7:41.

Her accomplishments caught the attention of several schools, granting her official offers from the University of Massachusetts, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Alabama—all large Division I schools. Ultimately, she decided on Minnesota after loving the coaching staff, team interactions, and special facilities; Minnesota has something called an “athletes’ village,” which is a large building solely for athletes. It functions as a mini-university, with its own study rooms, dining halls, gyms, and more, which drew Alexa to choosing the school.

Lots of students choose to stay in-state when picking an undergraduate school, unprepared to be so far away from family, but Alexa isn’t worried about being out-of-state at all.

“I’ve visited Minneapolis a couple of times already,” Alexa said. “It doesn’t feel too different from downtown Grand Rapids. It’s gonna be nice to have a change of scenery. It’s time to go on my own.”

At Minnesota, Alexa plans to major in English Literature—another one of her passions—and minor in Russian Language. She loves to read; just this school year, she’s read over 80 books (that’s a book nearly every three days.) If you are taking AP Literature this year and have seen the longest sticker tally of books on the back wall, yep—that’s her.

Her favorite novels are A Home Before Dark by Riley Sager and 1984 by George Orwell, highlighting her favorite genres as thriller and dystopian. Throughout high school, she’s adored all her English classes, specifically AP Literature with Mrs. Penninga. Her fondness for reading has laid a glowing path for her future that she’s very excited for.

“I thought about being almost every single other profession out there,” Alexa said. “I think a doctor lasted about 30 seconds; I took a biology class freshman year. I could not get through regular biology. It’s [English] ruling out all this other stuff that I’ve tried. I’ve never really liked math, even though I’m in AP Statistics right now. But I’ve always liked reading.”

Alexa’s future is bright, at Minnesota and beyond. Her two passions—rowing and reading—have crafted her future just the way she’s envisioned.

As she enters her last rowing season at FHC, she feels bittersweet but joyful for what lies ahead. Over the years, rowing has been a tutor in her life but has also brought her ample blessings—ones she will reap and forge anew at Minnesota.

“It’s [rowing] helped get over those hardships in sports,” Alexa said. “If I lose and hang onto it, it’ll really affect your next race. If you didn’t do well in your first one, you gotta let it go. It’s helped me with that [letting go of losses]. It’s also kept me in shape in a way no other sport has. So I’m grateful for that. The people [in rowing] are also supportive, which has helped me mentally. It’s given me a community.”

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About the Contributor
Lily Ohlman
Lily Ohlman, Editor-in-Chief
Lily is a senior entering her second year on the FHC Sports Report staff, this year as Editor-in-Chief. She plays varsity tennis, is involved with the Environmental Club, and loves to immerse herself in environmental matters and concerns. Lily is additionally deeply passionate about wellness, chai tea lattes, candles, and the rain. Apart from being on the tennis court or in the classroom, she enjoys discovering new coffee shops and trying new dinner spots. Her favorite sports team is the Michigan Wolverines. If asked about the book series Throne of Glass, she would probably throw a fit of excitement. Her dream destination: Scotland Her favorite season: She cannot decide between fall or spring Something unusual she loves: The celestial world above Something she hates: The fact she can't read all the books ever written  

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