I’m writing this to you as I make my way back home after the conclusion of our last winter camp together in San Diego. Three months have flown by, and the 2016 NSR is done. I haven’t been sure how to really craft an end to our time in the pair together, because I have been thinking for so long that this would be too soon for it to be over. But now that we’re here, and it is over, there are a few things I’d like to clarify.
You and I had very different camp experiences this year. You spent most of it getting healthy; I spent most of it making myself sick worrying that you wouldn’t be ready to row in time for the NSR. In this group, playing this game, with these rules, there were times that I had to ask myself to consider another option, and to think about alternative paths when it seemed like we wouldn’t have enough time to be there and be our best for the NSR. And for every time I asked, every time I circled around to the same answer: it always had to be us.
Thank you for giving me the chance to pursue my dream with conviction and integrity. Thank you for believing that there are elements to what we do that are greater and more powerful than numbers and quantifiable data. I have always believed that the best parts of our sport are the qualitative ones, and especially the ones that aren’t safe or sensible. The elemental and existential parts of rowing: desire, trust, surrender, loyalty, and a genuine love for what we do – these are things we brought to our rowing every day that I never took for granted, and that made rowing with you great. For all the strengths of our program, following your heart is not often rewarded or supported because it doesn’t look good on paper. It takes a great deal of courage to be successful here while living the path you dream. I admire you for having the courage to live that path on your own terms, and to take ownership of your goals like a true professional.
As with all the best things in life, lining up for our third NSR together required taking a big risk. There were no guarantees that we would succeed. But that, in and of itself, was worth it, and says everything about what it meant to me to row with you. We always knew getting what we wanted and achieving our goals was going to require that we be willing to commit ourselves fully to the process, and to that risk. We were never going to be able to go half-way in or settle for playing it safe, to win. Winning the pair this summer was always going to take a big, bold leap – bigger than an erg score, bigger than some past result. It was going to have to take everything, from both of us, to do something that had never been done. And we took that leap, even when everything and everyone around us, was telling us not to.
This is my way of saying that I would rather have tried and failed with you than done it any other way. I was always willing to risk failing because the potential reward, no matter how small the probability of achieving it, was worth it. I know what potential we have, because I’ve seen it, and felt it develop over the past three years. I know what’s in there, and I was willing to risk it all to have the chance to realize that potential. That trust is not something that you ever have to thank me for, though you tried. You earned it, and you deserve it.
My job over the past three weeks has been to give you back the strength, support and confidence you needed to stroke the best pair in the world. I failed. But I hope you know that I never stopped believing that we could be great, even with some roadblocks along the way. I did, and still do. What we’ve achieved over the past three years together is more than I ever would have thought possible when we first jumped in a boat together. It’s been really cool, and so much fun. Thanks.