Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Three-sport athlete learns one more

As a three-sport star, Shayla Dvorak wasn’t exactly a couch
potato in high school. Playing volleyball, basketball and running track, Dvorak
was active throughout the year while attending Mishicot High School. After
winning her volleyball team’s Pride, Hustle, and Desire Award as a junior and
being named MVP of the track team as a senior, Dvorak came to Madison looking
at a new sport to try.

“I kind of started thinking about it right in the summer
before I was a freshman and looked it up on the website,” Dvorak said. “And I
saw rowing, and I saw that they had walk-ons, and I was like, ‘Oh, maybe I
should try out for that. There’s no way it can be that hard.'”

Little did she know Wisconsin crew would be one of the
toughest undertakings of her life.


“I signed up at SOAR and came down to the meeting and (coach
Bebe Bryans) was there and said, ‘This is going to be the hardest thing you
will ever do, I promise,'” Dvorak said.

Despite Dvorak’s initial underestimation of the sport,
Bryans noted something right away about the walk-on.

“She was pretty fierce, right from the beginning,” Bryans
said. “I think, her freshman year, she lived here (at the boathouse). She had a
great work ethic.”  

Sure enough, through her hard work, Dvorak has blossomed
into the captain of Wisconsin’s B boat. The role of captain is not something
new to her, however. With six younger siblings in her family, Dvorak has taken
to leadership roles throughout her life. In addition to being the oldest child,
she has tutored other students in school since she was younger and also has
coached in summer sports camps.

“Everyone has different wants and needs and interests, stuff
like that, so that dynamic in coming to rowing as a team captain is really cool
because it has really helped me problem solve and help people get better
because I can use my past experience,” Dvorak said.

“She tends to be inclusive of people,” Bryans said. “One
thing that she’s been able to help lead seniors with is that nurturing the
whole team instead of holding anyone down and just holding everyone up.”

Although Dvorak is clearly a leader, she is very
soft-spoken, far from an in-your-face, out-loud captain.

“She was pretty quiet,” Bryans said of Dvorak. “She’s
steady, incredibly steady. That’s an incredibly important quality.”

“I think I’m pretty competitive,” Dvorak said. “I probably
come across as… not? Until you get to know me, I’ll get pretty comfortable, and
then I get competitive, especially this time of year. But yeah, I probably come
across as not, at first.”

Though relatively quiet, there is no question Dvorak has a positive
effect on her team and definitely deserves her captain’s status on the B boat.

“I think she has a pretty high standard of what she wants
the team to accomplish,” Bryans said. “She’s willing to stand up to people to
uphold the standard that everyone decided they wanted, and that is what
leadership is.”

Bryans even went as far as to say that one of the words she
most closely relates to Dvorak is “fierce.”

Obviously, the results don’t lie. In competition over the
weekend in Ann Arbor, Mich., the UW women’s openweight crew took second place
in the Big Ten Championships, improving from their fifth place finish last year
at the same event. The boat Dvorak rowed in took first place in their finals
race Saturday afternoon, beating the second place nationally ranked Ohio State
boat by just under a second. Wisconsin is well on its way to finishing well
this season, Dvorak’s last.

“I have a lot of Wisconsin pride. I dreamt about being a
Badger my whole life,” Dvorak said of her time as a Wisconsin rower. “The
history of Wisconsin rowing is one of the best parts. It’s really cool to just
be a part of that.”

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