Winchester senior Ara Cowper, flanked by her cross country coach Annie Fisher (left) and mother Melanie Heistand, on Thursday signed a letter of intent to attend Indiana University in the fall and become a member of the women’s rowing team. Cowper, like all freshmen on the team, will begin on the Novice team and hopefully work her way up the ranks.

Ara Cowper will be rowing the boat in the fall for Indiana University.

The 6-foot-3 center in basketball for the Winchester Lady Falcons, Cowper on Friday signed a letter of intent to join the Hoosiers rowing team. Dozens of her friends, family members, coaches and administrators were on hand to wish her well after she finishes her high school days at WCHS.

“Ara has a ton of determination and her character is unprecedented,” WCHS assistant principal Jordan Winkle said Friday morning at the gathering in the school commons.

Cowper said she decided to row after encouragement of her cross country coach, Annie Fisher. A series of fateful events resulted in her ultimately deciding on Indiana.

It also helped that she connected with a former Falcon who rowed for the Hoosiers.

“Rowing is where I found my place at Indiana,” said 2015 WCHS graduate Sophia Wickersham. “I met my closest friends on the team. The sport is the hardest thing I have ever experienced, however the experience, the lessons, friends and skills you walk away with make it all worthwhile.

“I wanted to make sure IU was in the running because I knew Ara would be a great asset to the team because she is hardworking and willing to go the distance for her teammates.”

Cowper contacted IU’s Novice Coach Katie Bitz, who was excited to have her join the team.