Meghan Musnicki grew up in Naples, at the southern end of Canandaigua Lake. After spending her early years in that community, she spent her last two years of high school at Canandaigua Academy, where she played basketball.
After graduation, she attended St. Lawrence University, with the idea of walking on to the basketball team, and got intercepted by the rowing coach.
"I really had no idea what it was and he was like, I'll show you and so, I tried it, I really liked it and it was something different and I figured, why not try something new and different and switch things up a little."
At the end of her freshman year, tragedy struck. Meghan's father, Bill, died suddenly of a heart attack and everything changed.
"He was actually a very fit and healthy man, worked out, active, so, it was a huge shock, it was completely unexpected, which is hard as an 18-19 year old girl. I was very close to my dad. It was definitely a very hard time in my life.”
When her home life stabilized, Meghan transferred to Ithaca College to be closer to her mother Gail and developed a strong bond with the school and her coach, winning two national Division III titles.
"I could drive over there, she could drive home, and we could meet for lunch or dinner. It helped us both a lot to be physically closer during that time,” said Gail Musnicki.
"I developed a relationship with her mom and her mom donated money to name a boat after her late father, so there were some additional things going on that connected me to Meg,” said Becky Robinson, Ithaca College rowing coach.
YNN: How Olympian Meghan Musnicki Got Into Rowing
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Naples native Meghan Musnicki graduated from Ithaca College in 2005 and started concentrating on nursing school, but she never completely left rowing.
Between 2006 and 2009, Musnicki was in and out of U.S. Development Camps and World and National team Trials.
“The last camp I went to was in the Olympic year for Worlds, so a non-Olympic team. I made the boat and we ended up losing at trials by a tenth of a second or something, so I didn't end up going but I did get an invite to come back here and train.”
After a summer spent focusing on physical training, Musnicki's ERG time improved so dramatically that she made the U.S. National team for the last three years, winning world titles the past two years in the Women's Eight. This past spring in Lucerne, Switzerland, her boat set a World Record in the semis before rallying to edge Canada for the Gold Medal.
On June 22nd, Musnicki was officially named to the U.S. Olympic team.
"We really haven't done anything yet. Everyone's really excited and congratulations and it's great and I love it and the support means so much to myself and my family, but we really haven't done anything yet."
Gail and Meghan's sister, Jamie, will be in London and so will Meghan's father, who died suddenly in 2002.
"She definitely believes that and she talks to him before all her races. He would be, and I know he is in spirit. Just awestruck by this whole thing and it is a shame that he physically isn't here with us, but we certainly all believe that spiritually, he definitely is with us,” Gail said.
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