Holy Spirit High School seniors Mollie Knoff, Haley Bramante and Kayla Driscoll will continue their educations and rowing careers at Drexel University in Philadelphia in the fall.
Knoff and Driscoll, both 18, and Bramante, 17, will each receive a partial athletic and academic scholarship. They have signed national letters of intent.
All three were members of the Holy Spirit 2019 girls varsity four that was a Press All-Star boat. The crew finished second at the Scholastic Rowing Association of America Regatta in Nashport, Ohio, an event commonly called “nationals.”
The three were each slated to return to the varsity four this year, and the crew might have once again been an SRAA contender. But the COVID-19 pandemic canceled spring sports. They discussed their decisions Monday.
“We’ve been together since freshman year, and I’m glad I’ll be rowing in college with my friends,” said Bramante, a 5-foot-9 Somers Point resident. “I didn’t know at first that we’d all be at Drexel.
“Me and Mollie have been in the same boat since freshman year. It would be really cool to continue that in college.”
Paul Savell, a Holy Spirit graduate, is the director of rowing at Drexel and the head coach of the men’s and women’s teams.
Knoff, a 6-foot-1 Brigantine resident, also visited Ohio State, Jacksonville, University of Central Florida and Clemson. She’ll major in health sciences.
“I liked the campus, and the tradition of rowing in Philly is where my roots are,” Knoff said. “Paul was one of the first to reach out to me. I met the coaches, and they made me feel wanted. I know a few (Holy Spirit) alumni there, so there’s a bit of a family waiting. They know what we do at Holy Spirit.”
Knoff and Bramante were members of the Spartans’ 2018 girls varsity eight as sophomores, while Driscoll was in the junior eight. All three were members of the freshman eight in 2017.
Holy Spirit coach Rory Roberts called Knoff a leader on and off the water.
“She’s a hard worker and always at practice,” Roberts said. “She’s long and big, and that’s part of the reason she’s had so much success. She’s strong, but with it all, an all-around good athlete.”
Bramante visited only Drexel in her search for a college. She’ll major in biology.
“Everyone there (on the team) was like a family, and the school was amazing,” Bramante said. “I know one of the alumni (sophomore rower Hayley McKeever), and she’s a good friend. It felt like home.”
Roberts said Bramante really hates to lose.
“We all want to win, but Haley hates to lose at (ergometer rowing), rowing on the water, situps, pushups, anything,” Roberts said. “She’s a little bit of everything, strong and technically strong.”
Driscoll, a 5-foot-9 Brigantine resident, will major in health sciences. She also visited Stetson, Jacksonville and Delaware.
“When I went to Drexel, I felt like it was where I wanted to be,” Driscoll said. “I felt more comfortable there. It was what I wanted for academics and crew.
“The girls on the team were nice, and they seemed like they were having a good time. Also, I like being on the Schuylkill (River) and racing there.”
Roberts said Driscoll gives it every ounce she’s got.
“She’s quiet but aggressive,” Roberts said. “She has a good erg score. You never know if she’s in pain, happy or sick, because in the boat she’s all business. She rows both sides, so you can put her in any seat from stroke to bow.”
The Drexel women’s team placed third in team scoring at the 2019 Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia. The Dragons placed second to Northeastern at the Colonial Athletic Association Championships on the Cooper River in Camden County.
This year’s Drexel women’s roster included three former Spirit rowers (McKeever, senior Kylie Magee and junior Abby Citta). Two others, senior Mackenzie Dorsett (Absegami) and freshman Avery Panico (Ocean City), also are from the area.
Asiya Mahmud, a former Oakcrest rower and girls head coach, is a Drexel women’s crew assistant coach. Michael Guerrieri, a former Holy Spirit assistant coach, is the Dragons’ director of boathouse operations.