by Jeremy Lakin (CAS '15)
When I got to NYU, I finally had the opportunity for the fresh start that my parents, friends, and guidance counselor had promised me but, I missed being a part of a team. The first week of practice was grueling; it felt like they wanted us to quit. When we weren’t erging, we were running, lifting, spinning, doing burpees, or carrying 45-lb plates everywhere. My first race season was equally challenging, and I’ll never forget the storm at my first head race on the Schuylkill River, in Philadelphia. By the end of that season, the eight of us in the Men’s Novice 8 boat were closer than I had ever been with my soccer teammates after 14 years. We kept each other motivated on and off the water, and then all through winter training even after we went home. I realized that rowing was the sport I had always been training for, but never knew it.
Sports did not come very easily to me. I was (and still am) not the most coordinated individual, but I knew how to operate in a team and I played supporting roles well. High school sports were tough because I was closeted athlete in a rural, Mennonite community. I had transferred schools because the bullying and abuse from teammates at my old school had gotten to be too much and, even in a more liberal high school, I never felt truly accepted.
A lot has changed since freshman year of college. After 14 years of playing soccer, rowing began to rise to the forefront. The same work ethic that my novice coaches ingrained in me made me work harder, get faster, and stronger. It got me into a US Rowing development camp at Columbia, and helped my masters team ALMOST win at the Canadian Henley. I am now a part of the greater rowing community: last summer at a regatta in Princeton I ran into my old coach, former teammates, and a former coxswain. But most importantly, rowing introduced me to a much smaller but impactful community, Row New York.
Row New York transforms the lives of young New Yorkers, regardless of background or athletic ability, by teaching them to row and providing academic and social support. Row New York currently serves 230 middle school and high school students in our year-round intensive program, and more than 2,200 across all our programs, including PE classes in NYC public middle schools, summer camps, para-rowing for athletes with physical and/or cognitive disabilities, and programs for adults. I was fortunate enough to be an assistant coach with the high school rowers for a summer. These kids are awesome, way cooler than I ever was/am. They’ve learned the lessons crew has taught me at a much earlier age which shows in their friendships and maturity (most days, they are still kids after all).
This weekend, I will be participating in Row New York’s annual ergathon, the Jingle Mingle. If you told me as a freshman that I would coach rowing, be on the Young Executives Board of a nonprofit organization, or willingly participate in an ergathon, I would’ve thought that you were joking. However, if you had told me in high school that I would be a rower, be a part of a global rowing community, or forge lifelong friendships with people that I wake up at 4:30 AM to hang out with, give up my weekends to compete with, and wear ridiculous matching outfits with, I probably would have thought you were insane. I honestly have no idea what inspired me to join the crew team at NYU but, 5 years later, I’m so glad I did.
- Make sure to head to http://www.rownewyork.org/ to find more information about Jingle Mingle and the impact of Row New York!!