My involvement with rowing started young. My parents dragged me to every one of my sister’s regattas throughout New England while I was still in elementary school. I first started my rowing myself at a small one week summer camp at the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut. Even by then, I knew this was the sport for me: something that I could excel at. When my family moved to Virginia we specifically looked for a home in this area so that I could row. And row I did. I quickly joined the Gloucester High School team in 8th grade and shortly thereafter joined Mobjack.
Rowing is a sport that teaches athletes a myriad of good qualities, the ones you will see on the cliché posters featuring an eight on a glass flat river somewhere: determination, discipline, teamwork. But rowing teaches a lot more than just the terms you will find on those posters. The humility of loss, loss by boat lengths and loss by a one inch bow-ball; the finesse of the stroke, where four or eight people can act as one powerful but delicate being; the ruggedness of blistered hands and waking up at godforsaken hours to row on choppy water only to get more blisters; the pride you feel after a race when your forearms burn like they are on fire, your legs are so exhausted you cannot stand without wobbling and a risk of collapse, and your breaths are short and quick, sucking in as fast as they dare to obtain any bit of oxygen, just so that you can row back to the dock with or without a medal around your neck – these are the qualities you won’t find on a poster, these are the qualities that not only embody the sport for me but have also helped me grow to be a better man.
I achieved a lot during my time here in Gloucester and Mathews. My high school career was decked with awards for this and that, of which I was and am proud of. But they mean nothing to me compared to what I achieved through rowing here. Everything else came rather easily. However, rowing was something I had to work just as hard as everyone else to master. If I could pick one thing that I could keep from that period of my life, having to throw everything else away, it would without a doubt be my experiences with this sport. From the local regattas in Mathews to the large races in Philadelphia and St. Catherine’s, Ontario, Mobjack Rowing offered me an opportunity to further my athleticism and my passion for the sport as well as allowed me to foster life-long friendships.
After Mobjack I went on to row at the University of Pennsylvania’s Heavyweight and then Lightweight Varsity Rowing teams. Here, around rowers from other programs, I could see what made Mobjack special. Many of the rowers were lacking something that Mobjack emboldened in its own. We may not have had the strongest rowers or the newest equipment, but we grow something in our rowers at Mobjack that others lack. I have yet to put my thumb on it, but there’s something here we mustn’t take for granted, as a team and as a community. I ended my career in the sport after a decade of rowing. But thanks to Mobjack it is still not an end. One day I’ll be back in a boat, whether it is my own single on a lake somewhere or just catching up with good friends every Christmas Eve row on the East River.