In the world of rowing, where discipline, teamwork, and determination prevail, sisters Francesca (Year 12) and Madi (Year 11) have thrived.
From the start of their rowing journey in Year 8, Francesca and Madi embraced the challenges rowing presented. Francesca reminisces, ‘I loved trying something completely new to me and loved the team aspect of rowing’. Madi, on the other hand, recalls, ‘I enjoyed the challenge of being patient while learning a new sport and working as a team’.
The Fintona Rowing program has provided the perfect environment for the sisters to thrive. Francesca describes it as ‘unique and inclusive’, highlighting the program’s commitment to ensuring that every individual has the opportunity to excel. Madi adds that it feels like a family, a tight-knit community where bonds are formed, friendships are forged, and lifelong memories are created.
The sisters attribute much of their growth and success to the values instilled in the Fintona Rowing program. Francesca acknowledges, ‘the commitment of the coaches to each individual’ has played a pivotal role in their development. Madi emphasises the program’s focus on personal growth, saying, ‘It’s not all about winning. It’s so much more than that. Our program taught us to do our best, but reminds us that things don’t always go to plan and that is OK, and then we get back to work’.
Like any siblings, Francesca and Madi admit to a healthy rivalry on the water. Their mother, Melanie, acknowledges, ‘Of course! Much like any siblings, but it was good to remind the girls to treat each other like any other squad member and put aside their sibling rivalry’.
Reflecting on their experiences, Francesca and Madi share their most cherished memories. Francesca fondly recalls, ‘In 2022, going to the Nationals at Nagambie, and then in 2023 our crew’s extremely challenging and competitive race at State Championships’. Madi’s fondest memory is winning a medal with her partner Maggie in the double scull at the Heads of School Girls final in 2022.
Beyond the physical fitness and technical skills, rowing has taught the Spano sisters invaluable life lessons. Melanie highlights the program’s emphasis on commitment, resilience, and time management. She explains, ‘The program at Fintona is about commitment to both yourself and to your crew, and teaches the girls resilience and to remain grounded’.
Looking ahead, Francesca, who, in her senior year, has served as the Captain of Boats is excited for the future after school. Madi eagerly anticipates her final season of school rowing next year, remarking, ‘Rowing is something that makes your heart happy! It has already led me to more opportunities outside of school. I am very grateful to have found rowing’.
To those considering rowing, Francesca, Madi, and their family wholeheartedly encourage them to take the leap. Melanie passionately asserts, ‘Don’t even think twice about it! The benefits are so great, they far outweigh the early starts and training sessions. The pride and joy, and personal growth the girls experience from this program and the rowing season is immense, and unlike any other activity they have pursued during secondary school.’
Francesca concludes with a profound sentiment, encapsulating the essence of Fintona Rowing and its impact on their lives, saying, ‘The program enables every girl to push their limits and strive to contribute to the program to show what they do best. Rowing encapsulates the very essence of the Fintona motto “do what you do well”’.