By Ryan Sparks · August, 2012
Today was very warm. It was also muggy, in extreme contradiction to the cool, overcast days we had at the beginning of the week. The kids had a very long morning session to review the technical changes they’d experienced throughout the week, then came back to the dorms for lunch followed by private coaching.
I (Ryan, the author here) met with four kids today — 3 of whom were seniors with promising erg scores or academics, but without much of a start on the process. Parents: understand the athletic admissions process starts earlier than the normal one, and that many recruits are committed by early Winter of their senior year. If you have a rising junior, they should be taking the SAT this Fall and planning on visits over Winter break. Even if you don’t know what schools to visit, visiting a variety of schools allows kids to identify what’s important to them. Rising seniors without a plan or a good way to select schools stand at a severe disadvantage in the athletic admissions process, even if they do possess wonderful erg scores or academics.
For the afternoon row, the kids were divided into six mixed, even eights and taken out to prepare for racing tomorrow morning. Mixed and even means that our men’s and women’s coaching staffs spent an hour in the dining hall after lunch combining their ‘teams’ to create six evenly balanced line-ups for competition tomorrow that will go off with all six boats lining up at once to do 500m pieces. (folks, that goes off at 8 AM if you’d like to show up. Following that there will be a presentation at 10:15 in Shaklin and camp closing.)
Finally, we had the most popular talk of the week — our three Olympians spoke on what it took to win the five medals between them. There are 7 billion on this planet, and 11,000 are Olympians. Of the 11,000 Olympians 900 take home medals. The amount of work to merely be an Olympian is one thing, but to take a medal… One coach spoke about how the ’96 Dutch Gold Medal Olympic 8+ (see the clip below — which one of our other coaches was in) inspired him to try out for the national team, where he would later row in five seat of the ’08 USA Bronze Medal 8+ with our coxswain coach Marcus McElhenney steering. (second video below)
The kids seemed energized and I believe they have a new understanding of what it is to work hard in our sport, as well as potentially a new, deeper understanding of the heart of our sport.