Taylor Ritzel

Athletic and academic Superstar!

Olympic Experience:

  • 2012 Olympic Games, gold medal in the women’s eight

Career Highlights:

  • 2012 World Rowing Cup II, 1st (eight, world record)
  • 2012 Samsung World Rowing Cup I, 3rd (pair)
  • 2011 World Rowing Championships, gold (eight)
  • 2011 Lucerne World Cup, 3rd (pair)
  • 2011 Henley Royal Regatta, 1st (Remenham Challenge Cup)
  • 2010 World Rowing Championships, gold (eight)
  • 2010 US Rowing National Championships, 1st (eight)
  • 2010 NCAA Championships, 1st (eight)
  • 2009 NCAA Championships, 4th (eight)
  • 2008 NCAA Championships, 1st (eight)
  • 2007 NCAA Championships, 1st, (eight)
  • Three-Time NCAA All-American (2008-10)

Learn More About Taylor

Taylor Ritzel is an athletic and academic Superstar! Graduating from Yale University in 2010 with a degree in History where she was also on the rowing team. Taylor enjoys running, swimming and reading – which shows she loved to have an active body and active mind!

Training for the Olympics sounds difficult. How much of your preparation is physical and how much is mental?

Both mental and physical preparation are key for performance. To me, the key word is preparation. If you do the necessary work, testing yourself physically time and time again, you prove to yourself that you’re capable of amazing things. That confidence and perseverance becomes a huge part of the necessary mental preparation.


When you were a young athlete, what were your biggest challenges off the track? In particular, how did you decide to say “YES” to a healthy lifestyle and “NO” to underage drinking?

Outside of sports as a young athlete, my biggest challenges centered around balance. Trying to do well in school, continuing to excel in music and having a social life was difficult, especially while training and competing as an athlete. For me, in order to find a good balance while saying “YES” to a healthy lifestyle and “NO” to underage drinking meant having to really listen to my values and what I found important. I knew that being an athlete was a huge part of my life and something I loved. So, I chose to surround myself with people who inspired me to excel and that made it easy to stay away from bad influences.


How did belonging to a team affect your approach to your sport?

Being a part of a team and being a good teammate is a skill that translates to any aspect of life. For me, it made my day to day routine and racing more than about just me. It meant that I wasn’t alone in my pursuit of winning, that each and every person mattered and that my success wasn’t just mine, it was the whole teams’.


How do you measure a good race?

Winning isn’t just about getting a gold medal. It took me a long time to realize this. The magic of sport is that it teaches so much along the way, from teamwork to perseverance to sportsmanship, winning is the ability to compete for the sake of competing no matter what the outcome.

Have you checked out the Scholastic materials featuring Taylor and her fellow Athlete Mentor Superstars April Holmes and Christian Taylor? Check it out here!

Get all the facts about Taylor’s involvement with Classroom Champions here!

Get all the facts on Classroom Champions here!




Create a healthy lifestyle for yourself

Friendship makes for a strong team

Being a good leader takes practice

Take time to reflect and to stay positive

Small actions make a big difference in communities

For me, in order to find a good balance while saying "YES" to a healthy lifestyle and "NO" to underage drinking meant having to really listen to my values and what I found important.

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