Music education student youngest to earn top award from USRowing

October 16, 2018

Nicole Marek is an educator who completed her classroom studies and will soon begin her semester of student teaching. A leader in the classroom and as captain of the MSU Women’s Rowing team, Marek was nominated for USRowing’s Bayer Award by her teammates which came as no surprise to the faculty who have witnessed her at work during her undergraduate studies.

Nicole Marek rows with her teammates.

“Nicole is an outstanding student who manages to balance her academic work and her work as a leader and athlete with incredible skill,” said Music Education Professor Cynthia Taggart. “She quietly goes about her business, excelling at everything that she does.”

Margaret Crocco, chairperson of the Department of Teacher Education, agreed. “Hidden beneath Nicole’s soft-spoken demeanor is an intense commitment to high standards of athletic performance, her studies and her teammates,” she said. “Her leadership of the women’s rowing team in the wake of Nassar’s crimes provides a model for all of us.”

Read more about her award win below in the article written by Austin Overman of the MSU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.

East Lansing, Mich. — Michigan State rowing alumna Nicole Marek was honored with USRowing’s Ernestine Bayer Award as announced by the organization on Thursday, September 20. Marek is the youngest recipient of the award in its 36-year history.

Formerly the USRowing Woman of the Year award, the Ernestine Bayer Award is presented in recognition of outstanding contributions to women’s rowing and/or to an outstanding woman in rowing. The award is selected by female members of the USRowing Board of Directors.

Marek was nominated for the award by former teammate and current Michigan State rower Mia Inman and will receive her award at the 2018 USRowing Annual Convention in San Diego, California on December 8. Click here for a complete list of award winners.

“I am so glad that USRowing chose Nicole for the Ernestine Bayer award,” MSU head coach Matt Weise said. “The maturity, tenacity and confidence that she exuded in a challenging time inspired her teammates and created multiple opportunities for the rowers to affect change in the university. I could not be more proud of her.”

Nicole Marek headshotA team captain and honorable mention All-American in 2017-18, Marek gave the rowing team a voice during her senior campaign. The two-time Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association National Scholar and four-time Academic All-Big Ten selection acted as a spokesperson, advocate and shoulder to cry on during trying times on campus in the wake of crimes committed by Larry Nassar. She gathered teammates in hotel lobbies to write press releases and organized a meeting with the MSU Board of Trustees. Marek’s leadership and compassion for others helped spearhead campaigns to implement change at universities across the Big Ten. A participant at the U23 women’s selection camp, Marek is the ultimate role model for women in rowing, making it safer for rowers everywhere to succeed.

“There are no words to describe how incredibly honored I feel to be receiving this award,” Marek said. “I must also give credit to my fellow seniors and teammates at Michigan State University, who all stepped up and worked together to make our voices heard. We presented solutions and worked with the university to ensure changes were made and did so in a confident and professional way. From this experience, my hope is that all women and girls feel empowered to speak up for what is right.”

A native of Grosse Ile, Michigan, Marek was a mainstay in Michigan State’s lineup throughout the final three seasons of her career.

Marek completed her eligibility with the rowing program during the 2017-18 season, but remains on Michigan State’s campus as she earns her degree in music education.

Click here to see the original article posting. The introduction was written in collaboration with the Colleges of Education and Music. All images courtesy of MSU Athletics.