Did you walk on to the lightweight rowing team?
What impact did rowing have on your Dartmouth experience?
My experience on the rowing team at Dartmouth has permanently altered my life in more ways than I can recall, but the team camaraderie, commitment to excellence and sense of adventure that comes with the sport was something I never thought I’d experience. The most memorable moments of my undergraduate career came from my time on this team.
As far as I know, I’m the only openly gay Black coxswain who double medaled within our era and quite possibly ever. As a novice walkon (initially as a D150 rower) I highly doubt someone like me would have even tried out for the sport if Lightweight Rowing didn’t exist, nor would I have had that life changing experience if this team was less inclusive and inviting.
Unlike many people, I was fortunate enough to be on both the Lightweight and Heavyweight men’s team and while I will always love both teams, I was always extremely impressed by the universal level of commitment that the Lightweights showed towards their craft, as well as the best in class team building skills that Coach Dan Roock showcased.
What impact did rowing have beyond college?
In several ways:
My recording of the 2011 Eastern Sprints championship race where we won the Silver medal has received over 50,000 views on YouTube and is one of the most watched lightweight rowing videos on the internet. This video has opened up many doors for me professionally and has helped give me a lot of credibility in job interviews or when engaging with my consulting clients
As a coxswain, I got a unique leadership training that I couldn’t have learned in any classroom. The skills of organization, strategic direction, clear communication and executive presence have all benefitted me on a daily basis — frankly more than many of the specifics I learned in the classroom.
How many other experiences would offer an openly gay Black man the opportunity to work alongside and lead wealthy White Ivy Leaguers for four years? Now when I’m presenting work to CEOs or investors I don’t have the self doubts or reservations that may have held me back professionally if I hadn’t honed these skills on the Dartmouth rowing team?
What would be lost if Dartmouth eliminates the Lightweight Rowing Team?
Between eliminating Freshman rowing and now Lightweight rowing, I’m sure the sport will attract fewer walk-ons from unconventional backgrounds going forward, which is at odds with the push towards diversity the school mentioned as a priority. Rowing already has a reputation of being a sport for rich white men, and eliminating one of the top walk-on sports on campus will likely lead to even more homogeneity in the sport.
Moreover, even fewer people on campus will be able to experience the magic of this incredible sport and to build some of the most valuable life skills any alum could hope for - teamwork, commitment, time management, pushing yourself to achieve more than imaginable and so much more