Tokyo Calympian: Kendall Chase, Rowing, USA

The Cal alum will be a 1st-time Olympian while racing in Women's Four with Team USA

About a dozen Cal Bears will be Rowing “Calympians” in Tokyo, not to mention already a couple of rowers that were named as reserves.

Returning to the Olympics in Rowing this year is the Women’s Four, which had only been in one Olympic Games in the past, the 1992 version in Barcelona, Spain. Coincidentally, at least three Cal alumni representing three different countries will be racing in this event.

On Team USA, Cal alum Kendall Chase will be joined by Grace Luczak, Claire Collins, and Madeleine Wanamaker. Chase will in the 3-seat on the boat. Team USA earned a Silver Medal in this event back in 1992. Rowen McKeller (‘17) on Team Great Britain and Rosemary Popa (‘14) on Team Australia will also be racing for the same medals.

Kendall Chase

Sport: Rowing

Event: Women’s Four

Nation: USA

Hometown: Evergreen, CO

Olympic Appearance: 1st

Age: 26 (25 August 1994)

Cal connection: Alumna (‘16, Interdisciplinary Studies focusing on health and illness in society)

Cal accomplishments: A two-time Pac-12 Athlete of the Year, Kendall Chase spent almost her entire collegiate on the top boat, the Varsity Eight (V8), of Cal Women’s Rowing. Chase was on the 2013 V8 boat that won the NCAA Championship as well as a part of Cal’s 2016 NCAA Team National Champion, where the V8 boat placed 2nd to clinch the team title.

Beyond the NCAA Championship, Kendall Chase apparently also found and rescued the Cal 2005 National Championship trophy from a fraternity. Check out this excerpt from her interview with Row2k.

4. Best/Anything you've done in the sport no one knows about?

My teammates and I were at a party in college and saw a big NCAA trophy on the shelf. It was the first place NCAA Women’s Rowing trophy that Cal had won in 2005 that had gone missing for over a decade. One Saturday morning after practice we drove the team van to the frat and knocked on the door to get our trophy back. The guy who answered the door was 100% hungover and 100% had no idea what we were talking about, but we were patient and waited until we got the trophy back. We came out victorious!

The Row2k article also mentioned that Kendall Chase is a huge Survivor fan. Maybe one day she will join fellow Cal Athletics alum Jeff Kent (baseball), Tyler Fredrickson (football), and Katrina Radke (swimming) onto the show.

Chase did a Q&A with Cal Bears dot com in her freshman year.

CB: What do you like most about rowing?
KC: Even though rowing is one of the hardest sports out there pain-wise, the gratification you get from winning a race masks all the pain you put yourself through during practice and through the race. Personally, that is why I row. The gratification of winning is unparalleled, compared to winning a basketball game or getting a low score in golf.

CB: Define your experience at Cal so far?
KC: Coming to college, I have grown and matured a lot as a person. Coming from high school and junior level, it is an eye opening experience. It has helped prepare me with a real-life experience. I have to plan out my life with academics, rowing and additional activities.

CB: What have you learned from the Cal coaching staff?
KC: You can never stop improving. You put the team on your back, the results that you have on the erg or on the water directly affect your teammates. It is a real team environment.

Internationally, Chase had won five U23 Gold Medals between 2014-16 as a part of Team USA’s 4- (Four, like her event in this Olympic) and 8+ (Eight, plus sign means that this race includes a coxswain) crew, where she competed in both events at the same meets.

Making the Olympic Games was a lifelong dream for Kendall Chase, she shared her emotions on Instagram.

A post shared by @kennychase25

I still cannot believe it. 11 years ago I set a goal for myself, and today that goal was achieved. The road to making the Olympic Team was anything but straight. Countless practices spent on the bike, missing out on multiple selection opportunities due to injuries, feeling hopeless in my body's ability to keep training, and every time I was feeling down I just kept telling myself to keep going.   

Thank you to everyone who helped me along the way. I wouldn't have gotten here without the support of my family, my friends, my coaches, and especially my teammates (past and present), who push me beyond what I think is even possible.  

Now it's time to get to work and prepare for the 2021 Olympic Games. 𝐋𝐅𝐆.


Conveniently, Kendall Chase is in the cover photo of the Team USA Rowing hype video below.

One of the few video interviews that I found was this one on YouTube where she talked about being gay while growing up in a religious and conservative family. Just like another Calympian Maarten Hurkmans, Chase is also an “LGBTQ+ advocate and hopes to help rowers and other LGBTQ+ youth find a safe space within the sport of rowing.”

Best of luck to Kendall Chase and her Team USA crew in Tokyo!

Olympic Schedule

The women's rowing event at the Tokyo Games is scheduled for July 23-30 on the Sea Forest Waterway.

Date and Time: Sat 24 July 2021, 8:30 - 12:30

  • Women's Four Heats

Date and Time: Mon 26 July 2021, 9:00 - 11:20

  • Women's Four Repechage

Date and Time: Wed 28 July 2021, 8:30 - 11:40

  • Women's Four Final B

  • Women's Four Final A

  • Women's Four Victory Ceremony