December 6, 2018

Where Are They Now: Kaylee Koker


Kaylee Koker graduated in 2018 and rowed all four years with the Buckeyes, including three years on varsity. During her time as a Buckeye, Kaylee earned gold medals at the Big Ten Championship in the 1V4, 2V4, 1N8, and 2V8 to help the team to four Big Ten titles during her career. Besides success on the water, the Athens, Ohio native was a CRCA National Scholar Athlete, Academic All-Big Ten Honoree, and Ohio State Scholar Athlete.

Kaylee earned a degree in physical education from Ohio State and is now a middle school physical education teacher. Learn more about her experience with Ohio State rowing and how it helped her get to where she is today!

What made you want to pursue your current field?

I love working with kids and inspiring them to become more than what they are. I also love sports and all the other components of physical education so it seemed to be the perfect fit for me. This is my first year teaching and I love waking up to go to school everyday!

How has rowing helped you become successful in your professional and academic career?

I’ve learned how to really persevere and be patient all at the same time. Throughout my rowing career, I was patient and let my performance on the water speak for itself while always trying to make whatever boat I was in be the fastest boat on the water. I think this has helped me for teaching because not everything is going to go the way that I hoped it would go, so being able to not stress about it by being patient and letting things fall into place has been beneficial. One other thing that I learned is to create positive relationships with other positive people. I’ve made so many friends and connections that I feel like there will always be someone there for any situation that I am in.

How did you balance being a member of the rowing team and being enrolled in such a challenging academic course load?

It was most stressful balancing academics and rowing when I was student teaching because I would have to rush straight from practice to school every morning, teach all day and go straight to afternoon practice. The thing that helped the most for that was to always prepare for the week on Sundays and the night before. I also think that using academic resources on campus such as talking to professors, studying at Younkin and going to bed early were good ways to manage being a student-athlete. Getting a good night’s rest also never fails to help get through stressful times with academics and rowing.

What made you want to join the Ohio State rowing team?

I really missed not being on a team and competing when I came to college. Fortunately, I found out about Ohio State Women’s rowing and the rest is history.

What is your favorite memory of your career as a Buckeye?

Game days with my teammates. Winning four Big Ten gold medals and team championships was also pretty cool, as well as earning a medal at NCAAs. But, the best part by far was all of the relationships that I formed and continue to have.

If you could give a piece of advice to Ohio State rowers and/or students, what would it be?

I would tell everyone to cherish all the moments with teammates. No matter how hard practice may be or how mentally challenging the sport of rowing is, always lean on your teammates. When it’s all said and done, you will be a human and not be defined as a rower, so build your friendships and hold them tight forever.

What do you think sets Ohio State rowing apart from other programs?

The people are awesome and they know that it is a privilege to be part of it. It is a gritty team with hardworking Midwestern values. We don’t let other teams out-train us.


Check out past Where Are They Now features:

Mindy Gabriel (Stauffer)

Emily Walsh