Did you walk on to the lightweight rowing team?
What impact did rowing have on your Dartmouth experience?
As a novice walk-on with zero expectations for athletics and high hopes for academics at Dartmouth, I am certain rowing taught me just as many invaluable lessons as all my classes and other extracurriculars. My teammates taught me what hard work and passionate dedication can achieve. My coaches taught me the importance of focusing on team success rather than personal performance. The tough 2x6k erg workouts in the middle of winter taught me to stay composed and execute, even when everything in that moment seems to be screaming at you to stop. Most importantly, my time as a D150 taught me what true dedication felt like: dedication to the sport of rowing and the fellow D150s I cared about deeply.
Rowing offered me an opportunity to meet people of different backgrounds, academic interests, career goals, and perspectives on life. I participated in vigorous debates of different political issues during dinner after practice, and attended a teammate’s thought-provoking thesis presentation for a department I didn’t even know existed. We all came from different places, but grew incredibly close through the sport. The closest friends I have from Dartmouth are entirely because of rowing.
What would be lost if Dartmouth eliminates the Lightweight Rowing Team?
Most immediately, nearly thirty students would lose the opportunity to compete as lightweights for the Big Green. Perhaps a few would row for the heavyweights, but the majority (whether from physiological limitations–not a heavyweight size–or from inadequate resources to support the influx of rowers) would likely never row for the college again.
Dartmouth would lose a varsity team that has attracted high-achieving recruits to the school, and even more walk-ons that have found immense value in rowing for the D150s. To my knowledge, no other sport comes close to rowing in opening varsity athletics to the general student body. Losing the lightweight team would burn a bridge between athletics and the broader Dartmouth community.
It’s difficult to say with any clarity what will happen in the future, but cutting Dartmouth lightweight rowing puts pressure on all other lightweight rowing teams, and there is a very real possibility that collegiate lightweight rowing might be lost because of this. Without lightweights, the prospect for “normally-sized” people to row in college becomes more unlikely. According to a quick analysis (source linked below), about half US males are below 5’9”. I have no doubt that some smaller and lighter people could still be successful in heavyweight rowing, but there is a point where the different weight classes make absolute sense.