By David Fong
TROY — It’s a long journey from Troy to Tokyo.
But if it will make the trip a little easier, Troy Christian senior Megan Hinkle is willing to take a detour through Ann Arbor, Mich.
“They said they can help get me to the Olympics in 2020,” Hinkle said of the rowing coaches at the University of Michigan. Hinkle recently signed her national letter of intent to attend school at Michigan and compete for the school’s rowing team. She’s hoping it’s a move that will help her get to Tokyo to compete in the 2020 Summer Olympics. “That’s something I want to do.”
Already considered one of the best junior rowers in the nation, Hinkle is hoping to take her game to the next level with the Wolverines and continue to develop into a world-class rower capable of competing on the sport’s biggest stage.
“They’ve got a great rowing program — it’s one of the top 10 rowing schools in the country,” she said. “Their coach is very supportive of all the girls.”
The chance to earn a scholarship and compete at the college level was the primary motivating force for Hinkle when she began rowing several years ago. A chance meeting with a guest speaker her eighth-grade year set a series of events in motion that led to Hinkle being one of the most highly recruited athletes in Troy Christian history.
“We had a guest speaker talk to us about getting into colleges, and he told us most rowing scholarships for girls go unused,” Hinkle said. “I went up to talk to him, and he asked what sports I played. I told him I played basketball and had never really thought about rowing. He suggested I look into it.”
Soon after that meeting, she began training and competing with the Greater Dayton Rowing Association. In a short amount of time, she was dominating junior competitions both regionally and nationally. She would receive a flood of offers from top rowing programs, including Ohio State, Wisconsin and Princeton.
“I didn’t think it would be like this — but I hoped it would be like this,” Hinkle said. “Getting a college scholarship was always my dream.”
While she had her pick of programs, Hinkle said her visit to Ann Arbor stood out from the rest.
“When I toured the campus, I fell in love with it,” she said. “Everyone was so nice. I really fell in love with the team. It definitely had a family type of dynamic. It was a very supportive and loving environment.”
So impressed was Hinkle with her visit that before her family could complete the three-hour trip home, she already has made up her mind where she would be attending school next year.
“We talked about it on the way home,” she said. “I had gone to Ohio State and I had visited Wisconsin, but I just felt the most at home at Michigan.”
Contact David Fong at [email protected]; foll0w him on Twitter @thefong