With every stroke slicing the stillness of the Lake Monona water, junior Maggie Galloway is reminded of what she enjoys most — the outdoors.

As a member of the UW women’s rowing team, Galloway has a chance to stay connected to her interest each and every day during the season, even if it was by random chance.

“I like endurance sports, and I love being out on the water,” Galloway said.

In addition to rowing, the Varsity Eight member finds great pleasure camping and canoeing.

Not to beat it over the head, but Galloway gets so much out of immersing herself in nature that she has plans to make a career out of it. She is majoring in biological aspects of conservation.

However, rowing isn’t only about being outdoors for Galloway; it’s an opportunity to let her competitive edge come to the fore, and it pushes her mind in ways that other activities can’t.

“I’m super-competitive; I don’t like to lose,” Galloway said. “The thought of being able to beat teams that are better, or girls that are faster than me or bigger than me, makes me want to go faster.”

Not only does Galloway, a three-time high school MVP rower, push herself, but she also acts as a driving force for her teammates.

“Maggie is a great teammate,” senior captain Shayla Dvorak said. “She always does everything and does her best to help her [teammates]. She pushes everyone physically and mentally in all aspects.”

Galloway’s competitive spirit wasn’t always as forthright as it is now. In fact, it wasn’t until this past year that her determination really became apparent to her coaches and teammates.

“She seemed quiet, and she didn’t have all the confidence in the world,” coach Bebe Bryans said. “But she just decided that she really, really, really wanted to do this and be successful.”

This attitude makes Galloway one of the key players on the team — most girls involved are competitive but not many can take it to the next level like Galloway does, according to Bryans.

“[Galloway’s] in the room among the fiercest people on the team,” she said.

Hailing from Louisville, Ky., it was somewhat of a happenstance that Galloway even had Wisconsin on the radar. But after a campus visit, there was nothing accidental about her attending UW.

“I knew immediately that I was going to come here; how could you not fall in love with Madison?” Galloway said.

Last year, the junior was named 2007 Academic All-Big Ten for her dedication in the classroom. With renewed focus on the water, not at the expense of her schoolwork, Galloway can only benefit the Badgers.

“We work for each other,” Galloway said.

All the effort she puts into rowing is not for personal gain, but to give the team a fighting chance of winning every competition the team enters. Galloway said she knows the other girls feel the same and believes this is why they will have such a successful season.

According to Galloway, there is much to look forward to this season, including prospects of making it to the NCAA Women’s Rowing Championships — which they were not invited to last year.

–Kevin Hagstrom contributed to this report