Molly Foxell

Molly Foxell on winning, teamwork and positive mental health

Molly Foxell on winning, teamwork and positive mental health

Molly Foxell already knows what it’s like to win on the Championship Course. In 2023, a year that witnessed an historic clean sweep, she was one of the victorious crew in the women’s reserve boat, Blondie. This year she’s just as determined to represent Cambridge and of course to win against Oxford. Talking to Molly, it’s clear that she has the skills, strength and drive to make that happen.

Molly, first of all where did your passion for rowing start? How did you get into it? 

I went in a little wooden rowing boat on a pond with my family and thought it was fun so my mum signed me up to a learn to row half-term camp at our local rowing club. Everyone starts somewhere! And for those who haven’t tried rowing before, university is a great place to give it a go because most people are in the same position.  

How did you become a rower for CUBC and did you face any challenges along the way?

I had to stop rowing for a few years because of an injury, and I actually got told I’d never be able to row again. When I came to Cambridge I tried it again and rowed with my College, Pembroke, for a couple of years before trialling with CUBC. So I feel very lucky because I didn’t think it would be possible. 

I was captain of my College Boat Club in my second year and we had a very successful year – leading that is one of my proudest rowing achievements.

How did it feel to be in the winning reserve boat on 26 March 2023?

It was an amazing feeling, made even more special by the fact that it was part of an historic clean sweep. And then representing Cambridge on 30 March this year – That’s the dream! 

Outside CUBC, you were selected for the GB v France crew – how was that?

Essentially all boats do a time trial in the morning and the fastest boat in each boat class gets selected, and the second fastest coxless 4 makes up half the 8. Then in the afternoon there’s one more opportunity to go into a coxless 4 and race (this could be unsuccessful quads, or two pairs joined together, or just the remaining coxless fours). The fastest boat makes up the second half of the 8. 

In the morning we were the 5th coxless 4 so we were way off but when we raced again we managed to win by 0.9s so we made up the second half of the 8. We’d been dreaming of it all year. 

Having rowed for 8 years now, do you have any valuable lessons or insights you can bring to your fellow rowers? 

I think the fact that I’ve been in so many different crews means that I have high expectations and am constantly in pursuit of high standards. But everyone on the squad has a lot to bring and we’re very focused on everyone being a leader. 

Now to academics. You’re in your third year studying linguistics? 

Actually when I first came to Cambridge I studied maths but I switched to linguistics in my second year because I’m interested in languages and communication. I like the fact that linguistics is very logical and involves spotting patterns and problem solving.

….and how do you find time to fit everything in?

Time management is key but I find it much easier to get stuff done when I have a limited amount of time, otherwise I end up procrastinating. Rowing really helps because I get outside and sleep better, all of which helps me to study better. 

So rowing obviously has a positive impact on your physical health. Would you say that about your mental health too?

Yes, I’m definitely the fittest I’ve ever been and the fact that I exercise, spend time outside, and see my friends everyday has a huge positive impact on my mental health. 

And what else has rowing taught you, apart from simply how to row?

Teamwork! Working so closely with a large group of people in an intense environment teaches you a lot about how to manage different personalities and work together to get the best results. A crew is a lot more than just the sum of its parts.

What do you love most about being part of the rowing scene at Cambridge, and the community at CUBC?

The people, for sure. You form relationships like nowhere else because you’re all so dedicated in working towards the same goal and you go through a lot together to get there. 

Alongside preparing students-athletes to beat Oxford, as Molly’s story shows, rowing for Cambridge also has a positive effect on academic performance and instils valuable life skills like teamwork, time management, and perseverance. A gift to the Pulling Together Fund enables CUBC to provide that experience to over 70 athletes each year, plus athletes (like Molly!) that come through the Club’s collegiate development programme. Join in CUBC’s annual month of giving by making a gift today.