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Niskayuna senior Heather Schmidt signs with Stanford rowing
(Courtesy: Niskayuna Rowing)

Niskayuna senior Heather Schmidt signs with Stanford rowing

NISKAYUNA, N.Y. — Niskayuna senior Heather Schmidt recently signed a National Letter of Intent with Stanford University.

Schmidt, an accomplished rower with the Niskayuna girls team, believes Stanford is the next step in her athletic career. The university has a good mix of athletic excellence and academic achievement, something that definitely appeals to her.

“They have such a high level of academics and athletics,” she said. “It wasn’t that you had to compromise on one over the other, you’re doing both at an extremely high level and that is their expectation. That’s exactly the kind of team I want to be a part of, and that’s the kind of coaching staff I want to be under. Their team is amazing, supportive, outgoing and their coaches reflect that.”

Schmidt began rowing in 7th grade as part of Niskayuna’s middle school program. In the past five years, she’s accomplished a lot. She came in first place in three different rowing competitions: the New York State Invitational, the Stotesbury Cup Regatta and the Scholastic Nationals.

She also finished 2nd in the U.S. Rowing Youth Nationals and 5th at the Head of the Charles. In addition, she competed in the World Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, finishing in 6th place.

Stacey Apfelbaum, Schmidt’s coach, feels that her student’s success is no accident. A motivated, focused and dedicated competitor, Schmidt is strong in both academics and athletics.

“She is a very accomplished student, someone who excels in the classroom as well as on the water,” Apfelbaum said. “One of those people who’s been physically gifted, she gives it her all and she’s lean and fit. She’s just willing to put in the work and do what she needs to do to be successful.”

Schmidt is not only an outstanding rower, she also plays basketball and is a certified ski patrol officer. The high school senior completed a course in medical training and works at a local ski mountain in the Niskayuna area. Her first interest, however, is still rowing.


Having tried out for the U.S. Junior National Team and participated in the World Championships, Schmidt hopes to continue rowing as part of the U.S. National Team.

“I had a great opportunity this past summer (in Bulgaria) and a great time training with different people, learning and growing as a rower and a person,” she said. “I’d like to keep being on the National Team and representing the United States. That really opened my eyes to a lot more things.”

Schmidt credits playing different sports as a major reason why she’s become a successful athlete.

“Doing many different things has helped me become more athletically inclined because I’m moving my body in many different ways and I’m becoming more bodily aware of what I’m doing all the time because of that,” she explained. “I pick up lessons for each of the different things I do.”

Niskayuna’s rowing program is very advanced, and Schmidt is not the only accomplished student athlete from it. Of the 11 Niskayuna students who signed National Letters of Intent this academic year, six were rowers.


For Schmidt, rowing runs in the family. Her younger sister and older brother also compete in the program.

Rowing with the girls team has taught Schmidt discipline as well as life lessons that will travel with her wherever she goes next. Working with other athletes and her coach have instilled in her a strong work ethic as well as an ability to collaborate with others, something her coach often emphasizes.

Apfelbaum has worked with many gifted students, but Schmidt especially impresses her.

“Heather is a great athlete with the heart of a champion and spirit of a competitor,” she said. “It is a privilege to work with her, watch her grow as an athlete and reach her goals.”

A tough opponent in any contest, Schmidt is also a team player who has everyone’s back.

“She’s a good teammate, a good leader,” Apfelbaum pointed out. “She supports her teammates and strives to raise the bar for everyone.”

This is an unedited user writing submission. The views, information, or opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Best Version Media or its employees.

Photo: (Courtesy: Niskayuna Rowing)