Jen Reck and Margaret Matia all but stumbled into the sport of rowing.
Reck (Com ’04), a competitive swimmer in high school, took up rowing as therapy for an injured shoulder.
“I ended up absolutely loving it—the team nature and the uniqueness of the sport. I switched over,” she says.
Matia (Col ’04, Educ ’05) transferred to UVA as a second-year student and went to open tryouts simply as a way to get involved.
“I’d never rowed before, never been on the water, never picked up an oar,” she says.
Both went on to All-America status as UVA rowers and forged bonds of lifelong friendship. Now, they’re also sharing the same corporate letterhead—FortiusOne in Washington, D.C.
Both are data analysts—Reck with a political bent, Matia with architecture—in a firm that uses public data and mapping technology to create customized online maps. The company also specializes in hiring world-class rowers and molds work schedules around training regimens and competitions.
“It’s a great environment,” Matia says. “The understanding, especially with my position, is that rowing comes first and Fortius comes second.”
The focus has paid off. Matia won gold in the women’s double and silver in the women’s quad last July at the Pan American games, where Reck came away with a bronze in the women’s pair. They hope to compete at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing this summer, but qualifying is no given.
“There are a lot of competitive women out there,” Matia says.
Two other UVA rowing alumni have been earning medals and honors in international circles.
Lindsay Shoop (Col ’03), another All-American while at the University, won a gold medal in the women’s eight at the World Rowing Championships in Munich, Germany. The victory qualified the United States in that event for the 2008 Olympics.
Wyatt Allen (Col ’01), a six-time national team member and 2004 Olympic gold medalist, was named USRowing’s 2007 Male Athlete of the Year. Allen won gold in the men’s eight and silver in the men’s four at the 2007 USRowing National Championships.