Virginia Athletics Paster Plan

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.— Virginia rowing head coach Kevin Sauer announced on Tuesday (Dec. 3) that 19 student-athletes have signed National Letters of Intent to join the Cavaliers in the fall of 2020.
The class includes Lauren Benedict (McLean, Va.), Cam Bentley (Far Hills, N.J.), Lily Bernero (Springfield, Va.), Izzie Bird (Maidenhead, United Kingdom), Emma Bradish (Kentfield, Calif.), Caroline Eby (Austin, Texas), Kelsey Gems (Johannesburg, South Africa), Nora Grabcheski (Montclair, N.J.), Annika Gromek (Vienna, Va.), Erin Claire Hallaby (Johannesburg, South Africa), Beatrice Jones (Delmar, N.Y.), Kate Kelly (Vashon Island, Wash.), Zoe Klenke (Reno, Nev.), Grace Lebo (Nashville, Tenn.), Ailbhe O’Grady (Sarasota, Fla.), Alex Smits (Sydney, Australia), Maggie Strickler (Richmond, Va.), Ava Wisnoski (Chesterfield, N.J.) and Alexa Zavattaro (Old Greenwich, Conn.).
“We are very impressed by the quality of the Class of 2024,” Sauer said. “They are a passionate, high character, hard-working group that will contribute to the University and our team immensely. Many thanks to associate head coach Emily Ford and assistant coaches Erin Neppel and Caroline King, as well as our present team, for showing this class and their families why UVA is the place for these young women to further their academic and athletic careers.”
Lauren Benedict  Lauren Benedict
  McLean, Va. – McLean High School/Potomac Boat Club.
  Coaches: Bianca Arrington, McLean HS, Judith Vogel, Potomac BC, Carol Dinion, PBC
 • 2nd at Club Nationals in 2x – 2019, 4th at Club Nationals in 4x – 2018
 • 4th at Club Nationals in 8+, 2nd in 4+ – 2017
  “During my visits, I found that the university had the best balance of academics and athletics. The coaching staff is incredibly supportive, and the team is like a family who really cares     about each other and the overall success of the women’s rowing program.  It immediately felt like home.”


Cam Bentley  Cam Bentley
  Far Hills, N.J. – Blair Academy
  Coaches: John Redos and Rebecca Litvin
  • 4th at Scholastic Nationals in Girls Varsity 4+ (2019)
  “I chose UVA for its sense of community, school spirit, positive team culture, and dedicated coaching staff. I know it will be the school to challenge, motivate, and support me over the      next four years. Go Hoos!”


Lily Bernero  Lily Bernero
  Springfield, Va. – Bishop O’Connell/Thompson Boat Center
  Coaches: Dan Brisson (O’Connell), Greg King (TBC).
  • Gold in Women’s U238+ at Canadian Henley, 2nd in Girls JV4+ at Scholastic Nationals 2019
  “I chose UVA for its high-quality academic programs and highly competitive rowing team. I felt immediately welcomed and supported as a student-athlete as soon as I arrived on     campus.  I cannot wait for my next four years as a Cavalier!”

Izzie Bird  Izzie Bird
  6-1, Maidenhead, United Kingdom – Henley Rowing Club 
  Coaches: Leon Redman and Ed Dean 
  • National Schools Regatta 1st in Girls 2nd 8+ (2019), 3rd Varsity 4x (2018)
  • Henley Royal Regatta finalist Varsity 4X (2018)
  “Fabulous team and best university atmosphere!”

Emma Bradish  Emma Bradish
  Kentfield, Calif. – Marin Rowing Association 
  Coach: Sandy Armstrong
  • 3rd in Youth 8+ at 2019 Head of the Charles
  “UVA strikes the perfect balance between academic and athletic rigor. I knew it was where I wanted to be from the moment I stepped on Grounds, and only fell in love with it more as I    got to meet the team!”

Caroline Eby  Caroline Eby
  Austin, Texas – Texas Rowing Center/Row West Racing Camp 
  Coaches: Falesha Thrash/Veronica Scheer (TRC) and Zohar Abramovitz/Melanie Salter (Row West)
  • 2nd at US Rowing Nationals 2019 in the U19 8+ 
  “I chose UVA because I knew it would challenge me to become the best version of myself. The beauty, setting, coaching staff, community, and history of the team and university make    it such a special place to be. I cannot wait to be a Cavalier!”

Kelsey Gems  Kelsey Gems
  Johannesburg, South Africa – St Andrews School for Girls
  Coach: Jamie Croly
  • Represented South Africa in the Junior Women’s 2x at 2019 Junior World Championships
  “I chose UVA because of the exquisite academics and outstanding rowing program.”

Nora Grabcheski  Nora Grabcheski
  Montclair, N.J. – Montclair High School Rowing
  Coach: Jeremy Michalitsianos 
  • 2018 US Club National Championships, 1st in U17 4+ and 2nd in U17 8+
  “I chose UVA because I wanted a competitive but super supportive environment!”

Annika Gromek  Annika Gromek
  Vienna, Va. – Potomac Boat Club
  Coach: Judith Vogel
  • 5th at 2019 US Youth Nationals in the 1x
  “I wanted to be at a school that would invest in my whole person not just me as an athlete.”

Erin Claire Hallaby  Erin Claire Hallaby
  Johannesburg, South Africa – St Andrews School for Girls Rowing Club 
  Coach: Jamie Croly 
  • Represented South Africa in the Junior Women’s 2x at 2019 Junior World Championships
  “I chose UVA because I love the passion within their rowing community. I have only heard amazing things that made me so excited to join their team.”

Beatrice Jones  Beatrice Jones
  Delmar, N.Y. – Saratoga Rowing Association 
  Coach: Eric Gehrke
  “I chose UVA because the institution and women’s rowing program have a longstanding tradition of enhancing individuals who are driven and strive for excellence.”

Kate Kelly  Kate Kelly
  Vashon Island, Wash. – Burton Beach Rowing Club
  Coaches: Richard Parr- BBRC and Liz Trond- US Junior Team
  • Represented the USA at 2019 Junior Worlds as bow in the 4-.
  • Bronze as stroke Varsity 4+ at New Zealand National Championships
  “The people that I met at UVA demonstrated the qualities I value most: integrity, gratitude and grit. I knew right away that it would be a place that I could contribute and thrive.”

Zoe Klenke  Zoe Klenke
  Reno, Nev. – Auburn Ski Club Biathlon/Lakeridge Swim Team
  Coaches: Biathlon: Brian Halligan/Glenn Jobe. Swim: Sharon Weiss/Nenad Rodic
  • Biathlete (Nordic skiing/shooting) and swimmer
  • Attended the North American/Calforex Cup biathlon races and US Biathlon Nationals 2019
  • Qualified for US Cross Country Junior Nationals, and will be attending US Youth and Junior World Championship Team Trials for biathlon in December
  • Best events in swimming are the 100 and 200 yard backstroke and the 100 yard butterfly
  • Attended the Nevada State Championships Meet and made finals in high school swimming regionals
  “I chose UVA because I was impressed by excellent academics and the atmosphere I experienced on campus. Students at UVA are driven to succeed, yet do not let their aspirations     detract from the relationships they form with others. I feel that with a UVA education, I can become the best version of myself.”

Grace Lebo  Grace Lebo
  Nashville, Tenn. – Harpeth Hall School Rowing/Nashville Rowing Club
  Coaches: Emily Caflisch/Corey Sanderson
  • 3rd in Youth 4+ at 2019 Head of the Charles, 1st 2018 U19 8+ (HP Team) Club Nationals
  “I love Charlottesville! High caliber rowing, campus atmosphere, academic and athletic resources are all amazing.”

Alibhe O'Grady  Ailbhe O’Grady
  Sarasota, Fla. – Sarasota Crew
  Coach: Casey Galnavek
  • Placed first in the 8+ and 4+ at the 2019 CanAmMex regatta for the United States
  “I chose UVA because it was a great fit and has wonderful academics. The team spirit was amazing, and I loved the environment the team created. The coaching staff is very     welcoming and extremely supportive of their rowers.”

Alex Smits  Alex Smits
  Sydney, Australia – Queenwood School
  Coaches Ciarán Glynn and Adam de Koning
  • Australian National Championships: 1st in U19 4+, U19 8+, Schoolgirl 4+
  “I chose UVA because of the positive team culture and the energy and determination of the girls.”

Maggie Strickler  Maggie Strickler
  Richmond, Va. – River City Crew 
  Coach: Timothy Nesselrodt
  • 800 meter runner on track team
  “I chose UVA because it has always been my dream school and I immediately clicked with the coaches and team.” 

Ava Wisnoski  Ava Wisnoski
  Chesterfield, N.J. – Princeton National Rowing Association/Mercer
  Coach: Matthew Carlsen
  • U.S. Youth Nationals 2018: 4th place Lightweight 4+, 2019: 4th place Varsity 8+ 
  “I chose the University of Virginia because not only is it an amazing school academically, but it offered me the opportunity to row at a highly competitive level surrounded by great     athletes and coaches.”

Alexa Zavattaro  Alexa Zavattaro 
  Old Greenwich, Conn. – Greenwich Crew
  Coaches: Catherine Starr/Heidi Hunsberger 
  • National champion in Lightweight 8+ (2018) and 2nd place in Varsity 8+ (2019)
  “I chose UVA because I immediately felt welcomed.  It felt like a place I would be happy to call home for the next four years.”