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Date of Birth:
June 22, 1970
City/State of Birth:
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Olympics and Events Attended:
1996 Olympics, Atlanta, Georgia, USA - Rowing
Kakela grew up in Steamboat Springs, ski racing in the winter and riding horses in the summer. Her parents, Wayne and Linda Kakela, were always supportive of her athletic endeavors and of exploring and trying new things. When she went off to Dartmouth College, she wanted to try a new sport that would get her in shape for the ski season. Kakela tried rowing and was hooked. "There is something about the intense training and camaraderie that develops among teammates that is addictive," she says. The summer after her freshman year, she was invited to a National Team Development Camp. Kakela continued to compete through her collegiate years. After graduating from college, she gave herself a year to make the National Team and moved to Boston to teach school and train. The following summer she was selected to the U.S. Team to go to the World Championships in Prague, Czech Republic. That was the beginning of four successful years competing internationally with the U.S. Rowing Team. Her rowing career culminated with the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. However, the highlight of her career was winning the World Championships in 1995 in Tampere, Finland. Kakela came from Finnish heritage, and the community of Tampere adopted her boat mates and her as their hometown team.
Kakela met her husband, Fred Honebein, while training and competing with the US Team. After retiring from rowing, they both moved back to Steamboat in 1996. She then went back to school to get a Masters in Telecommunications from Colorado University in Boulder. Kakela spent the next six years in network security, as a consultant for Accenture and a systems engineer for Nokia, before returning to rowing. She is now coaching at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. Fred coaches the Varsity Men, and she coaches the Novice Women. They had their first son in June 2005.
Kakela says, "Steamboat has always been home to me. There is a sense of place, in this valley, that I find relaxing and rejuvenating. The community has always provided support and inspiration. When I was training and competing, the community learned about the sport of rowing a change from the traditional winter sports. So many people showed enthusiastic interest and support, it constantly surprised me. Now, years have passed, and I am still amazed at the support that Steamboat has for its athletes. It is a legacy that I am proud to be a part of. However, it does not matter whether I am training for a specific goal or searching for the next direction in life, Steamboat is the place that I return to when I have the opportunity. Fred and I are trying to get back here!"