Jennie Kunes shouts commands as her teammates hoist a boat off the racks of the Newell Boathouse.
“Walk it out! Going downstream!”
Kunes, a junior, says that back in high school her friends suggested she join rowing as a coxswain because she is “small and loud.”
Now the 4-foot-11, 105-pound Kunes plays a role akin to a quarterback for Harvard’s heavyweight varsity rowers.
Coxswains call out instruction while sitting opposite rowers, the only crew member facing the direction the boat is moving. Charged with keeping the crew and equipment safe, they make all of the decisions on the water.
Kunes was a sprinter, a long-jumper for track and field, and a gymnast before deciding to cox.
“We steer the boats,” Kunes said, “executing everything from the turns in the Head of the Charles course to keeping the boat straight during a 200-meter race on a buoyed course.”
While many of her fellow engineering concentrators tend to stay up late, Kunes says she heads to bed by 11 p.m. and rises at 6:15 a.m., arriving at the boathouse by 7.
Kunes also joined the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club this year and describes her assistant stage manager role as “like being a coxswain, but on land.”