What Do Accounting and Rowing Have in Common?

Tory Vornholt (left), OU's newest accounting professor, is also a competitive rower. In this photo, she is the coxswain---or the individual who steers the boat.

It’s not every day that you run across an accounting professor who knows not only the difference between the sides of a ledger, but also the sides of a boat. As a competitive rower, Professor Tory Vornholt knows a little something about both—along with training, teamwork, and endurance.

She started about three years ago when she was looking for a fun and relatively inexpensive outdoor activity to fill her time away from work.  “I saw a group of older men rowing, and I thought, ‘I want to be as strong and healthy as they are.’  She caught on quickly, and soon, she and her teammates began taking home medals from their many rowing expeditions.  Although the mother of three didn’t play traditional sports in school, she does have a background in dance and finds that both sports have a lot in common.

“Rowing is the ultimate team sport,” said Vornholt.  “Both with dance and rowing, you have to work on synchorization and teamwork…so it translates really well. The boat has to be in harmony. It reminds me of The Rockettes. All of the members have to kick at the same height and at exactly the same time for it to work….just like rowing—everyone is putting in the same effort and pulling the same amount.”

Dr. Vornholt competes with the Atanta Rowing Club, which rows on rivers and waterways across the Southeast, including Dr. Vornholt’s favorite course, the Chattahoochee River. Though the course is close to home, she says it still makes her “feel a million miles away,” because of the lack of development and the natural environment. 

Prof. Vornholt likes that Oglethorpe students are well-rounded and that many are involved in athletics. "Oglethorpe is truly a liberal arts environment---it's a warm, very different atmosphere here."

The sport gives the scholar in Vornholt—who’s earned two Master’s degrees and a JD—a new type of challenge.  The  physical and mental stamina needed to endure the race trumps many challenges and for Dr. Vornholt, the friendship and camaraderie of her teammates is just as important for the win as the physical training. 

“I feel really close to my teammates,” said Vornholt, who has rowed for as long as four hours straight with them, one of her most difficult feats. “When you finish a race like that, everything hurts!” she recalls. “You use your whole body, your core, and it is very mental… But at the end of the day, we pull for each other. When something happens, even outside of rowing, you’re all there for each other—like a family.”