Did you walk on to the lightweight rowing team?
What impact did rowing have on your Dartmouth experience?
I was not a traditional athlete growing up. I was skinny and tall. But I was also fast and had good lungs and determination. During our first week of school, I remembering visiting Thayer full fare (all you can eat dining hall) in 1990 and a couple of rowing coaches were at the entrance to the dining hall. They stopped me and asked if I had thought about rowing, and strongly encouraged me to attend the first practice to learn more. I was intrigued - nobody had ever picked ME to be on a team before.
At the first practice, I knew I had made the right decision. I really liked Coach Max and the idea of being on the CT river and bonding with this group of guys. Turns out, I had the right build for rowing and raced up to the first boat. I was really good at it and my tall chicken legs meant that my natural 150 lb frame was always the right weigh-in amount. My teammates became my friends and I found I had a “place” at Dartmouth. I knew when I arrived at Dartmouth that I did not want to be part of a frat so this sense of place was important to me.
I have never worked so hard with a group of people on anything in my life. We took a lot of pride in our team. I started college as a boy and felt over that year the start of my transition to become a man. Rowing was a big part of that. We were also very successful - ultimately winning all the spring races and the Eastern Sprints. What a moment and what a feeling!
Since college I have been a supporter of Dartmouth Rowing and of Dartmouth because of my rowing experience. I am still friends with my fellow first year rowers.
To think that others would not have the opportunity to participate in lightweight rowing is a deep injustice to students.
What impact did rowing have beyond college?
Rowing taught me to persevere. Our mind can tell us to give up on a challenge, but we can train our mind to keep pushing. It taught me about trust and friendship. My best friends from college are all rowers. When I am with my rowing friends, we have a special bond that does not exist with others.
What would be lost if Dartmouth eliminates the Lightweight Rowing Team?
Rowers are tremendous student athletes. My rowing friends are the brightest people I know. Without lightweight rowing, I think that preciously few of them would end of competing in other varsity sports. Most lightweights cannot simply transition to heavyweight rowing. Moreover, rowing is a unique sport - unlike all other sports. Only a rower can truly understand that.
Rowing teaches us so much about our ability to outperform, working as a team, time management, overcoming challenges, nature and finding balance with nature, etc.. Without rowing, my experience at Dartmouth would have been a far less satisfying experience.