High school rowers and parents, are you interested in learning more about getting recruited to college? Below is a glimpse at my path to Brown University.
Sports require mental readiness. To succeed in sports you need to make sure that your brain is as well-trained as your body. So, the question is: What type of individual do you have to be psychologically in order to succeed at the highest level in sports?
To answer that question I'd like to share with you some of my biggest professional achievements: I've won the Olympics-- silver and gold in the single scull. Also, I've won a few silver medals at the World Championship. Stayed undefeated with Brown University in the men's collegiate eight, and had a world record as a junior on the ergometer.
Left to right: Me, Jamie, Chris, Igor, winning Henley
Were these achievements the result of a cold-blooded calculating individual? No.
Sure, training and discipline played a big role. But, at the end of the day, those records and medals were the results of a highly passionate person. And in order to explain a little bit what the root of my psychology is, I'd like to paint you a picture of how my mom was.
My mom was highly emotional and very passionate. Think of any emotional trait in the human being and multiply it by a hundred: that's my mom. She was a non-dormant volcano and she would let you know about it. So, it should be no surprise that I was very passionate. Did I worry about things? Yes. Did I end up learning how to control my emotions? Absolutely. But I think the underlying core is that I was eager. I could foresee a future in which I was able to succeed at the highest level in rowing. Being passionate is the key to rowing, and most likely, to anything that you’re willing to undertake.
So, you need pure, genuine passion to succeed at the highest level in sports. Now, the question is: At first, can you immediately become passionate about whatever you're doing? When it comes to rowing, I was very lucky to have had elite coaches who were capable of channeling my passion and energy. Coaches able to pay attention to the right details when it came, not only to technique, but also to how to apply my effort, and how to manage my game. Elite coaching adapted my strengths. It utilized my emotional and psychological characteristics in an effective way. All that passion was channeled into creating the best possible performance in rowing.
Winning Olympic Gold in the Single Scull
It wasn't easy though. There were many athletes who couldn't understand how visual I was while explaining how I felt when I would get ready for a race or even a long workout, what I felt like when I was lifting in the gym, or how I interacted with the team at Brown University.
That's why it's so important to learn to manage passion. Remember, if you're highly passionate, that is fuel to be used. Not to be mistaken with wrongly used fuel when you have not-so-good coaches around you. The danger for people who are very passionate about training is that if they don't get elite coaching, that fuel can burn out fast.
Elite coaching encompasses proven technical coaching tactics, rowing technique, psychological understanding, physiology knowledge, and, last but not least, how to deal with the unexpected. You've got to know how to handle what does not go your way.
Sometimes the best races are the ones that start the worst, and so, elite coaching was the key for me in this case. And it’s what I do now with everything I learned over twenty years of racing. I learned through experience, but also --and definitely very key to the success of my experience-- through the elite coaches that I've had. Steve Gladstone is still active, coaching at Yale University. Harry Mahon has been an unbelievable mentor to today's most successful coaches. And that's what I'm eager to do now: to continue to help rowers around the world improve their rowing performance and get recruited to their dream college rowing programs in the nation. To help rowers get to the dream school that they want to go to and stand out as student-athletes.
There you have it. I was a passionate rower, I needed to be channeled. I got help from elite coaches, and now I'm helping other rowers achieve their maximum potential. With fuel. With passion.
“High school rowers, you owe it to yourself to explore what Elite Coaching can do for you. For me it was a life changing event.”