By Brett Barnes


The Stillwater River is a 69.3 mile-long tributary of the Great Miami River in western Ohio in the United States. It rises near the Indiana state line, in western Darke County, approximately ten miles northwest of Greenville. It flows east-southeast and is joined by Greenville Creek in Covington, approximately five miles west of Piqua.

Just to the west of the “mighty Stillwater” sits the village of West Milton, Ohio. West Milton is a sports crazed town that whole-heartedly supports their M-U Bulldogs in all sports. Thousands gather on week nights throughout the fall and winter to support football, basketball, soccer, volleyball etc…. but Crew? Has anyone in West Milton ever lined up on the banks of the Stillwater to watch a rowing event? Maggie Busse thinks maybe they should.

One of M-U’s main cogs in girls’ basketball in the mid to late 2000’s, Busse just completed her college career at Purdue University, not in basketball, but as a member of the Purdue Crew. Busse not only competed for four years, but she also won a national championship in 2011 as a member of the “varsity 8” and earned the right to race at the Royal Women’s Henley Regatta in England.

So how does a girl from West Milton become a national champion in rowing in four short years? Busse explained, “The team makes itself very visible. For the first two weeks that freshman are on campus, they are out recruiting. So I got involved after one of the team members chased me down as I was riding my bike. If she was willing to put in that effort, I could at least go to the callout. They then draw you in at the callout by showing a video of the team rowing that would have any athlete’s heart racing, ready to compete. It’s one of those sports that you fall in love with once you try it.”

The Purdue rowing team is a club team but competes against varsity teams across the country. This means they train like any varsity sport just without all the benefits. “Rowing has a fall (distance racing) season and a spring (sprint racing) season, so we train at least 2 hours a day, 6 days a week, year round,” Busse replied. “It involves a lot of cardio, core work and long distance rowing in the fall, followed by an indoor training season consisting of rowing machines (ergs), running and weight training.”

So what does the future hold for this national champion rower? “I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Biological Engineering this past May. In the fall, I will be pursuing my master’s degree at Purdue in Civil Engineering with a focus in water resources. I will also be coaching the novice (freshmen) women’s rowing team.”

Coaching Crew at Purdue… has a nice flow.