Bruggeman leaves ‘U’ for full-time Olympic training

MINNEAPOLIS- After nearly two seasons working with the Minnesota rowing team, assistant coach Molly Bruggeman is leaving the program to focus on full-time training for the 2024 Olympics.

Bruggeman spent the past two seasons with the Gophers and led their recruiting efforts as the program continued to improve on the water. Now she will turn her attention to the U.S. National Team in Princeton, NJ, with plans to compete and medal at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

“It will be nice to get back to a more normal training routine,” Bruggeman said. “Right now I’m training around training and it’s tough. Obviously there are a lot of good things about training that have kept me coming back, but it’s hard to balance the two. In the end, I had to make the decision to pursue my dream of making the Olympic team.”

She will train two or three times a day with a highly competitive group of 10 women at the US facility, mostly on small boats and in pairs, with trips around the country and overseas to help continue the preparation.

Bruggeman started out rowing for the Dayton Boat Club in her hometown of Dayton, Ohio, but quickly made herself comfortable on campus and with Gophers staff and student-athletes.

“The biggest thing for me in Minnesota was the people,” Bruggeman added. “That sounds like a corny answer, but it’s actually the truest of them all. It’s the reason I came here in the first place. The whole coaching staff with Alice Strodel, Jeff Forrest, Victoria West and Sarah Weyrauch all are dedicated to making this group the best it can be. Then the athletes themselves were really some of the best I’ve ever worked with in their drive, their passion, their attitude towards training and going hard together.”

Seeing this passion from Team Gophers gave Bruggeman a chance to look within and gain a fresh perspective as his competitiveness never wavered.

“That’s part of why I want to pursue this myself because it’s been such a cool experience to work with this group and see them progress. I want that for myself too and it brings me back to competition.”

A three-time All-American at Notre Dame, Bruggeman is no stranger to racing at the highest level, whether nationally or internationally. She was an alternate on the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team and previously won a gold medal at the 2018 World Rowing Championships. Last September, she was part of the U.S. Women’s Eight-man team that finished fourth at the 2022 World Rowing Championships in Racice, Czech Republic.

“It’s the kind of sport where you just have to be tougher than everyone else. When I see our athletes get to that point in their training, where we call it the ‘hard point’ of a training, and the to see them face it. It’s one of those things where I know what it feels like, and to see them be able to overcome that in their own way and then see success, it’s such a cool feeling as a coach.

This impressive resume and experience has been vital to the Maroon and Gold since she arrived on campus. Bruggeman was able to show current student-athletes their potential to reach the next level, while making a lasting impact.

“I was able to lean into the relationship with our athletes. It’s not easy and being a student-athlete presents many challenges, but I felt that all of my experiences really allowed me to have that connection. staff with our Know how great it is when everything pays off and being able to celebrate with them is rewarding.”

With on-campus facilities and the chance to be on the waters of the Mississippi River year-round, she knows Minnesota is a special place as the program will continue to grow and expand.

“There have been so many good, beautiful mornings along the Mississippi River. The fall colors each year have been awesome. Being able to go out and work hard in a group is something I will always remember. All the hard things we what we’ve done with this program has led to a lot of progress and seeing the team excited about this growth makes it all special.”

Many people in Minnesota will now be watching Team USA rowing closely in the months to come, cheering on Coach Bruggeman every step of the way as she pursues her dreams.

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