Colin Truex & UCSD Women's Rowing
Year-round sunshine, warm temperatures, the Pacific Ocean, the eighth largest city in America and the second largest in California, a bustling center of defense, international trade, biotechnology, and healthy living—San Diego sparkles like a jewel on the West Coast, in large part due to the presence of UC San Diego and its affiliated medical center. A large research university, boasting over 22,000 undergraduates and 6,000 graduates, UCSD ranks in the top-ten of US public universities and third in California. First-year women's rowing Head Coach Colin Truex emphasizes the academic focus of his student-athletes, dispelling the popular San Diego party-school myth. "Academics are pretty top-end. The mandate of the school is to produce engineers and people in the medical field, so it's not for everybody. It's not the place for people looking for more of a social scene." And accordingly, he incorporates this attitude in his approach towards recruiting. "[When I'm] recruiting, I make sure to mention that. We don't want square pegs in round holes, you have to understand what you're getting into on the academic side. We don't have any basketweaving majors."
"[When I'm] recruiting, I make sure to mention that. We don't want square pegs in round holes, you have to understand what you're getting into on the academic side. We don't have any basketweaving majors."
In addition to its scholastic prominence, UCSD prides itself on a superbly well-rounded athletic department (which many credit to the funds available due to a lack of a football team). Most of the Triton varsity sports compete in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) at the NCAA Division II, with the exception of water polo, fencing, and men's volleyball competing at the NCAA Division I level. There has been pressure for the program to move up a division, but for the meantime, Truex explains, it means "we don't have scholarships to give out, just a really dedicated group of student-athletes." That is not to say that the rowing team lacks influence with the admissions department, and since there is a clear formula for UC admissions, Truex can give honest appraisals of a recruit's chances of getting in. "It's really hard to get in here, although we have a good amount of pull, although the standards for in-state vs. out-of state differ." Team chemistry is another important component of his recruiting philosophy, and he places stock in the how the current athletes relate to recruits on official visits. "I'm a steady coach. I love rowing and I enjoy what I do, and I want people to enjoy it, [so] it's important with me to create a positive environment."
"It's really hard to get in here, although we have a good amount of pull…"
Coming off of five years coaching the men's freshman at UCSD, and before that the women's team at San Diego State University, Truex talks admits that he is still in the honeymoon phase with his new team, and talks about the competitive culture he is trying to bring to bear. "It's a 15-minute drive from campus to the boathouse [on Mission Bay, the race site for the San Diego Crew Classic]. We only have a 6-8 week Fall season, and we have to pack a lot in, with six mornings [rowing] a week, ergs on campus, and weights Monday-Wednesday-Friday…. [The goal is] making every day competitive. It sounds simple, but it's amazing how that's a new concept for people on this team, that there's a purpose for each practice, whatever it is, drills, steady state, it's about beating other people on a daily basis. That way races won't seem that bad." And with 40 varsity athletes fighting for a limited number of seats, with not a whole lot differentiating between them, chances are good that this environment will yield positive results.
Truex's enthusiasm for the program shines through. "Have you been to San Diego!?! You get to row in the best climate in the world, be out there everyday…"
When asked about the best part of rowing for the Tritons, Truex's enthusiasm for the program shines through. "Have you been to San Diego!?! You get to row in the best climate in the world, be out there everyday, get to be a student here in this young and active culture. You get to live by the beach, and then with the academic opportunity, the opportunity to win a national championship, it sets you up for a great future. It's pretty hard to beat all those things together, and the kids that go to school here rave about it." He adds, avuncularly, "Unless they're looking to be a big partier."
Look to see the 2013 UCSD Women's Rowing team scrimmage with Orange Coast College on February 16 at home and racing Long Beach State, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara on March 2 in Newport Beach, CA.
- Donny Simkin