The following is third in a series about former BPS athletes currently playing their sport in college.
Caroline Kiritsy and Rachel Wolsfelt have a relationship much like the rest of their teammates do on their Division 1 Duke rowing squad. They’re supportive of each other, they attend team dinners, and every fall they participate in a rigorous ropes course solely for a preseason team bonding experience.
But Kiritsy and Wolsfelt share a different, special kind of bond: they’re both alumnus of Boston Latin, where they each discovered their mutual love for rowing, facilitated through the Boston public school atmosphere.
"If you look at Duke’s roster, they recruit nationally,” Latin’s Athletics Director John McDonough said. “No other school has two kids on that team, and here this little public school has two of them."
At Latin, Kiritsy and Wolsfelt were both part of a heavyweight eight that placed third at regionals in 2009, which qualified them for Youth Nationals in Ohio. This was Kiritsy’s junior year, and Wolsfelt’s freshman year. It was on the water that a friendship blossomed between the two.
“Caroline was my coxswain for both my ninth and tenth grade years,” Wolsfelt said. “She was the one that got me interested in Duke, and I actually stayed with her on my official visit. Now that we’re both at Duke, we’re still great friends and teammates.”
The coxswain is typically seated at the stern of the boat, and is responsible for steering and the coordination of both power and rhythm of the other rowers.
Kiritsy, an upcoming senior captain of the Duke squad, started rowing at Latin in 2005 during her eighth grade year. As one of three kids in her family, Kiritsy was encouraged to participate in sports starting at a young age. But her smaller stature initially discouraged her.
“When I joined the team, I was the smallest person out there. So I was naturally put at the coxswain position,” Kiritsy said in a recent interview.
“But I really found my niche because I knew I was completely contributing. I absolutely loved the rowing program at Latin. Coach Gillian Curran is an incredibly strong and influential woman. She definitely got me inspired,” Kiritsy recalled.
Like Kiritsy, Wolsfelt also began rowing in eighth grade under Curran. Aside from rowing at Latin, Wolsfelt also participated in volleyball and track. Now entering her sophomore season at Duke, Wolsfelt emphasizes how much rowing at Latin helped define her as a collegiate student athlete.
“Rowing at BLS really helped me with my work ethic, but not just athletically; it helped in school too,” Wolsfelt said.
“I learned how to manage my time between the two. And during my senior year, I met Joe Cappellano who’s a facilitator for the Zone program. He really helped me with the college process, and emailing different coaches and stuff.”
The Boston Scholar Athletes academics Zone is active in all 19 BPS high schools, where they strive to provide assistance and a quiet place to study for all student athletes.
Academically, Kiritsy and Wolsfelt both excel.
Kiritsy is majoring in mechanical engineering, where she’s currently interning in Georgetown, Texas for the summer. McDonough describes her as a “brilliant kid and a superstar.”
Wolsfelt is enrolled Duke’s prestigious pre–med program, where she aspires to major in evolutionary anthropology. She’s currently spending her summer at home in Boston, where she’s taking summer classes at Boston University.
Through each of their successes both on the water and in the classroom, both Kiritsy and Wolsfelt stress the importance of their individual dedication to their studies during their time at Latin.
Kiritsy was adamant in expressing the importance of academics in her journey to Duke.
She noted, "I’m thrilled that I have the opportunity to study here. During high school, it was very important for me to study at a good university.”
Wolsfelt notes how BPS sports has helped mold her into to the person she is today.
“I’d encourage all BPS students to participate in a sport," Wolsfelt said. "I think sports help keep a healthy mind and a healthy soul. I also met all my closest friends because while playing, and established relationships with people across all ages.”
Globe Correspondent Justin A. Rice contributed to this report.
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- Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
- Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.