Did you walk on to the lightweight rowing team?
What impact did rowing have on your Dartmouth experience?
I walked onto the Lightweight team freshman fall after meeting several current team members during my DOC trip. I was amazed at how welcoming each of the athletes was and remember feeling excited to have the opportunity to join such a stand-up group of men and women. I had no prior experience with rowing, but was told each day that all it took to be successful as a D150 was to work hard and trust the process. To hear such inspiring words from successful upperclassmen each day kept me coming back to the boathouse with high hopes of one day being a contributing member of the lightweight team.
My freshman fall took an unusual turn when I suffered a severe concussion during a team building activity led by Dartmouth Peak Performance just a few weeks before my first round of finals. Unable to leave my dorm room for non-academic reasons, I could not help but feel isolated and detached from the fellow freshman class. As I saw peers around me build friendships and circles, I was confined to my dorm to recover. These feelings were only amplified when I returned for the winter term still unable to participate in athletics or social activity. As I struggled to find ways to remain involved at Dartmouth, the team took me in and made sure that I felt included and supported despite my inability to practice and limited time as a member of the team. Eating dinner with the team each night was the highlight of each day, and if it were not for the constant encouragement from the upperclassmen on the team I doubt that I would have ever found a community I could call my own at Dartmouth.
Fast forward several years and I was elected commodore (co-captain) of the team. The Dartmouth Lightweight Rowing team is made up of the type of people that would proudly call an injured walk-on one of their own, knowing that all anybody needs is the opportunity and work ethic to make great things happen. I am not the only one of my teammates that feels they owe a tremendous debt to the team for the support received during difficult times. What I miss most about Dartmouth was knowing that at any time I had a team-wide support network for any of the curveballs life might throw, and knowing that I had the ability alongside my teammates to help each other persevere through tough times.
I will forever be grateful for my time spent as a D150. It is the first thing I talk about when asked about Dartmouth, and anybody who knows me knows that my enthusiasm for Dartmouth and Dartmouth Rowing is infectious. It is deeply upsetting to see what I loved most about Dartmouth fall to such an unjustified end. I have always considered myself a proud alumni, but wonder how I can continue to support an institution that clearly does not share with me the values I believed it did.
What impact did rowing have beyond college?
Being a successful walk-on requires a specific skill set: persistence, determination, open mindedness, and the will to outwork your peers. After graduating, I joined the Mergers & Acquisitions group at Morgan Stanley with no background in finance and no experience in the field. In order to succeed in a highly competitive and foreign environment, I channeled the same skill set that rowing had taught me. I knew that I would need to listen to those around me, learning as much as possible and sticking with difficult problems until I had developed an understanding. I was prepared to work harder than any of my peers, but understood the importance of encouraging your co-workers and teammates to work just as hard. Being a student athlete in itself helps build upon these qualities needed to succeed in the real world. But it is the unique experience of a walk-on that perfectly parallels the experience of starting a career. As one of the only teams with a strong history of walk-on success, the Lightweight rowing team offers a distinct and inclusive opportunity unlike any other sport, and with that uniquely prepares its athletes for success in the real world.
What would be lost if Dartmouth eliminates the Lightweight Rowing Team?
We are the only team that encourages and supports a broad walk-on program. With the elimination of this team, Dartmouth would be encouraging the divide between recruited athletes and other students. What was perhaps most frustrating about Hanlon’s email was the suggestion that those who are athletes are unable to succeed in other pursuits. A team with historical success and walk-on involvement directly supports the idea that there is no divide between strong athletic and non-athletic success at Dartmouth.