This week, meet one of our graduating seniors, Nick Smith.
Nick started with Row New York as a freshmen on our novice team four years ago. He wasn’t the fastest, or the strongest athlete, nor was he the best student. In his own words, he was overweight, small and unsure of himself. He knew he wanted to try a sport, but was not sure what team he might make. Fall of his freshman year, Nick found himself in an auditorium listening to Row New York coaches introduce their Youth Program. He had never heard of rowing, but was intrigued by the idea that the sport was open to anyone who showed a willingness to work hard. Nick liked the idea of trying something totally new – and he had no clear idea of what rowing entailed.
No one was more shocked than Nick when he received a call that he made the team. He vividly recalls getting a call on a Friday morning that practice started the next Monday afternoon. That single phone call sparked the beginning of a journey for which Nick is enormously grateful. Today, at close to 6 feet tall and a lean healthy weight, he loves rowing – he loves the strenuous workouts, the competition, and the team camaraderie. While the physical transformation was striking to his friends and family, his coaches noticed an emotional maturation that was even more noteworthy. As his coach, Ian Suchan recalls: “By the end of his sophomore year, Nick seemed like a different person. Physically he had lost a ton of weight and had grown a couple of inches, but it was his mental discipline and overall demeanor that I noticed the most; he had more confidence in himself, and seemed to be more comfortable with who he was.”
This increase in confidence had a positive impact on the team as well. Nick was more outgoing and willing to take on a leadership role. “Rowing is not an easy sport” Nick readily admits. There were times when the last thing he wanted to do was get up by 6a.m. on a Saturday morning to make practice. Or to get out on the water on a cold windy day, as blisters developed on his hands. But as Nick attests, it is those very hardships and testing of one’s mettle that makes an individual grow in character. There is much that Nick will miss about Row New York as he heads off to college: his teammates, his coaches, the competition and yes, even the practices on early summer mornings.
An excerpt from our 2015 annual report.