Steve Perry & US Naval Academy Lightweight Rowing

By Ryan Sparks | January 1, 2012

ANNAPOLIS, MD—Even at five AM the organized energy is palpable on the Naval Academy grounds; there's a sense of purpose and firmness on the other side of the gates. This works well for morning rowing practice.

"Kids come here for a lot of different reasons, but some of the main ones are the demand of the day and financial incentive."

The type of student that's interested in Navy is looking for something different in their college experience. Commitment to the Academy means four years' service in the Navy or Marine Corps post-graduation, and everyone knows that the Academy itself isn't Animal House. "I want motivators, not motivat-ees!" shouts Steve Perry, the head lightweight coach during the final piece of practice.

"It's impossible to fade into the wood work here – there's a sense of ownership. Kids come here for a lot of different reasons, but some of the main ones are the demand of the day and financial incentive. It's free to come here, and upon graduation they're looking at guaranteed salaries between fifty and seventy thousand dollars a year. Not to mention the program is successful." Says Perry.

The Academy's sense of ownership for its rowing program is evidenced by the fourteen million dollar renovation of their on campus boathouse, scheduled to be completed in Fall 2010.

"Being a midshipman at the Academy requires a demanding day: rather than running away from that for lighter times during practice we harness it"

"Our goal is to win the Eastern Sprints and the national championships every year, and we set our minor goals based on that major one…. hard work is required – and we offer plenty of it. Being a midshipman at the Academy requires a demanding day: rather than running away from that for lighter times during practice we harness it and use it to get the most out of our weekly twenty hour allotment of training time. It's very structured." Perry says.

"I want recruits that attracted to the environment here and also believe they have a future of rowing on the US team or making similar impacts…. being successful at the Academy requires kids to have a higher than average level of maturity, accountability, and responsibility. Those values are also quintessential to our success as a team. Four of the past five years we've had recent alums racing on the US national team; we also have alums from those same crews leading SEAL teams and flying F-18s."

"Four of the past five years we've had recent alums racing on the US national team; we also have alums from those same crews leading SEAL teams and flying F-18s."

The Naval Academy lightweights beat Georgetown last weekend and lost to Harvard on Saturday.