From Family to Teammates

Hawkeye Fan Shop — A Black & Gold Store | 24 Hawkeyes to Watch 2016-17 | Hawk Talk Monthly — Feb. 2017

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.



IOWA CITY, Iowa — Families that row together stay together. At least, that is how it has become in the case of twins Marija and Elizabeth Pritchard of the University of Iowa rowing team. 
Elizabeth and Marija are both sophomore coxswains — a coxswain is the person in charge of steering the boat, implementing race strategy, and making calls for the crew. The Pritchards have been on the team together since their freshman year at Iowa, but that was not the intention when they were in high school.

Attending the university together was never in doubt — it’s where their parents went and they grew up Hawkeye fans. The two, however, wanted to explore and try new things individually in college.

Marija was the first of the two sisters to find rowing.

“I was looking around on the university’s pages and I noticed the rowing website,” Marija said. “It said no experience necessary and I thought ‘That’s perfect’, because I have no experience.”

When Marija began researching the opportunities with the rowing team, it looked like a sport the two could pursue together. Elizabeth agreed.

“I was hesitant to row at first because we were in a lot of the same stuff in high school and we like some of the same things,” said Elizabeth. “We’re best friends, so we do a lot of activities together. It makes it hard when people see you as the same person. That’s always bothered me because we’re best friends, but we’re very different people.”

The sport of rowing itself ultimately convinced Elizabeth to join the team. She decided to start rowing because it sounded fun. There was no escaping that she enjoys doing things with her sister, and the team has provided a unique balance of family camaraderie with individual pursuit. Besides, she figured there are plenty of other opportunities for her to participate in without her sister during her time in college.

“We do a lot of things together because we like similar things,” said Marija. “After Elizabeth decided it was something she also wanted to do, it turned out to be fun, and I’m glad that she’s on the team with me.”

It helps that they do not row in the same boat. They are both coxswains, so they help lead different crews. They row at the same time during practice and talk to each other across the water with their microphones, which the other rowers find amusing.

Both agree, while teammates become family, it is also nice to have a sister on the team.

“It’s somebody who’s always in your corner and will back you up,” Marija said. “It’s nice to spend time with her doing something we both like. During the day, I don’t see her because we’re in different classes and have different majors. It’s nice that I get to see her during that time.”

“I really enjoy having a sister on the team,” Elizabeth said. “We know each other so well that we’re a good support system for each other. I feel like I can talk to her about anything and she understands exactly what is feels like and what I’m going through. She always has my back and is always there for me.”