Old Girl Madeleine Duerig (nee Horridge, Class of 2015) graduated from Somerville with an urge to travel the world and pursue her passion for rowing. Year 8 at Somerville House was when Maddy began her rowing career and met future Olympian Harriet Hudson (Class of 2015). The girls raced at several State and National regattas together and were Rowing Captains in their senior year.

“Harriet and I always rowed together and were double partners multiple times. I loved watching Harriet race at the Olympics. It has been a dream of hers since she started rowing, and to see her achieve that was awesome!” Maddy said.

“During my senior year, I broke both of my ankles before the rowing season had begun. I took this as a blessing in disguise because during the three months of recovery, I reset my passion and enjoyment for rowing. I believe that if I had rowed that year, I would have burned out and not pursued it any further,” she said.

“After I graduated from Somerville, I spent the next seven to eight months training and racing for a club team, River City Rowing Club, which also rows out of the Somerville House rowing sheds. The Director of Rowing at the time, Oleg Shishkin, invited me to train with three other girls, and we trained together and proceeded to race at the 2016 Australian National Rowing Championships.”

Keen to pursue higher education, but not locally, Maddy travelled to New York to study psychology and sociology, and row at the picturesque Syracuse University.

“I chose Syracuse University because they were willing to take a chance on me as an athlete, and the coaches were willing to invest not only in athletic identity but my personal and academic identity,” Maddy said.

Syracuse University, New York

“The Syracuse rowing program was just starting to gain momentum in becoming a top program, and that is something that I wanted to be a part of. Helping the team to become a nationally ranked team that everyone talks about, which by the end of my five years, we had accomplished,” she said.

“As a student, I had endless opportunities both in rowing and academics. Syracuse is a very academically driven school, so I was able to be taught by some of the most highly regarded professors. They were very understanding of me being a student-athlete and helped me succeed even when I was on the road.”

After meeting at Syracuse University in 2017, Maddy married her husband AJ in September of 2020.

“AJ played on the Syracuse Football team. We met through our respective teammates,” Maddy said.

“Instead of having a ceremony and reception in September, we decided to elope and have a reception in June of this year.”

Maddy and AJ will remain in the United States for the foreseeable future, but she is determined to eventually move back home to Australia.  

“I would ultimately love to become a rowing coach for a Division I program. But if that doesn’t work out, I would like to work as an Athletic Director within an athletic program or build my own business specialising in Human Resources,” Maddy said.

“I am unsure if I will continue rowing as a hobby. I definitely do not want to leave the rowing community any time soon, but I am just allowing my body to recover from the past eleven years of rowing and injury. I am hoping to start rowing recreationally soon,” she said.

Maddy has recently accepted the role of Graduate Assistant for the University of Tennessee Women’s rowing team, where she will be responsible for recruitment and assistant coaching for the talent transfer group.

“The position is awesome! I will learn everything there is to know about coaching, management of equipment and rowing administrative work,” Maddy said.

“As a Graduate Assistant, I am fortunate to be able to enrol in a master’s program. I chose Sports Management, and I am very excited to explore what the degree offers over the next two years. As an athlete, you only learn and see so much, so by combining my graduate position with this program, I am thrilled to be learning and understanding a different side of athletics.”