Ladue senior makes a splash in competitive rowing

Lili Toledano (pictured at center), a senior at Ladue Horton Watkins High School, began rowing as a freshman.  In September she committed to row for Indiana University, which has a NCAA Division I rowing team. 

By Eliana Brook, Senior, MICDS

Meet Lili Toledano, senior at Ladue Horton Watkins High School, member of Congregation Shaare Emeth and board member for the Reform Jewish Youth Movement (NFTY). Lili also is the founder and president of her school’s fishing club and a group leader of the Jewish Community Relations Council’s Student to Student program. She also loves to spend time with her family and friends. However, what many people may not know about Lili is that she is an avid rower.

Lili started rowing during her freshman year. She was introduced to the sport through a presentation in her school’s physical education class.

Before then, Lili played basketball and field hockey, but she “never really loved either of them,” she said.  


After Lili heard about the opportunity, she decided to try out the new sport. As soon as she touched her oars for the first time, Lili said she knew this was “something I would want to do forever.”

Ever since that presentation in her freshman year gym class, Lili has “not taken a season off since.”

“I love to row, and it is something that I could not imagine my life without,” Lili said. 

For the past four years, Lili has been rowing competitively at the St. Louis Rowing Club at Creve Coeur Lake, where she is a captain.

Lili is a strong leader who has a great passion for her sport and exemplifies the importance of being on a team. 

One of Lili’s teammates and a fellow Ladue High School student Cecilie Horwitz  said she actually “started rowing because of Lili.” 

Cecilie “looks up to Lili and aspires to push myself as hard as she does. Lili works so hard and makes sure everyone at the Boathouse feels welcome,” she said.

Ever since she started rowing, Lili knew that this was something she “never wanted to stop doing,” she said. “I knew that I wanted a competitive [NCAA Divison 1] program that will push me to work hard.”

She decided she wanted to row in college because it would give her “a purpose and motive, and my love for the sport is so strong I cannot imagine not rowing in college.”

Lili took an official visit to Indiana University Bloomington in early September and verbally committed only a few days later. Lili said she weighed her options and “picked the school that would be the best fit for me, both academically and athletically.” 

She especially loved the “team and the coaches at Indiana who were so nice to me,” Lili said, noting she “felt like I belonged from the minute I stepped onto campus.” 

Cecilie said she is happy to see her teammate find success. 

“I am so proud of Lili, as she is truly kind to everyone around her, and deserves this so much,” she said.

Lili is excited to finish off her high school rowing career and continue pursuing her passion in college. As she reflects on her high school career and future in rowing, Lili said the sport has had a major impact on her.  

 “[R]owing has taught me so many things and pushed me to be a better athlete, person and teammate,” she said.