After the cancellation of their Spring 2020 season, the Fairfield University men’s rowing team is even more eager to get their boats in the water in September. FUMR rising seniors Tom Cole, Sean Crosby, August Feliciano, Jordyn Saxe, Brendan Smith and Drew Thompson let “The Mirror” in on how they are preparing for competition to pick up again, how they have adapted as athletes during the coronavirus pandemic and more.
- How do you plan on adjusting to a higher role of seniority on the team? Do you feel a greater sense of responsibility to act as a role model for your younger teammates?
Cole: An essential part of our team culture has been centered around leadership from our upperclassmen. Especially with a large portion of our team being made up of walk-ons with limited experience, it is crucial for upperclassmen to lead by example. I know how important it was for me as a first-year walk-on to be able to learn from the model set by the upperclassmen, and I hope to continue that trend this year.
Crosby: Being a rising senior on the Fairfield University men’s rowing team, I want to emulate what seniors have done in the past, and improve where improvements can be made. Our team has no captains this year, so being a leader may seem like a daunting task without a hierarchy, but it will allow upperclassmen and underclassmen to all work together for the betterment of the team. Since I am not a captain, I feel less of a responsibility to act as a role model, because we all are the role models. We act with each other and take responsibility for each other as a team.
Feliciano: Now that I am in a leadership position on the team, I plan on listening to the ideas of underclassmen and trying to implement them as best as possible. I also plan on enforcing more concrete excuses for missing practice (i.e. job interviews, coach’s permission and doctors’ notes). I will also try to enforce secondary workouts as best as I can without singling out anyone in front of the whole team. I do feel a greater responsibility to act accordingly in front of the younger teammates, despite them having more experience in the sport than me.
Saxe: I feel that the transition will be smoother, since I have experience leading the boat as a coxswain. I plan on working my way into the role a little bit each day so as not to give the impression that I’m ‘better,’ because I am not. I do feel there is more responsibility, but I have always felt responsible for the team’s achievements.
Smith: I plan on adjusting to the role of seniority on the team by setting an example for others that shows what the team is supposed to represent. I feel a greater sense of responsibility to act as a role model for my younger teammates because I know I was once in their shoes and I want to be able to encourage them like the leaders that came before me.
Thompson: I believe that by emulating and understanding how previous senior leaders approached the team will be important in adjusting to this new role. Specifically in my three years, Will Quentin, Charles Cooper and Liam Creegan were all friends and teammates who were well-rounded and always willing to talk or help in any way that they could. As a senior, it will be important to be a role model for younger teammates, and I believe that the entire senior class who have been through three years of rowing already embody many great leadership characteristics on the water, in the classroom and socially.
- In what ways has your time on the Fairfield University men’s rowing team helped shape you into the person you are today? What lessons have you learned as a rower which can be applied to life beyond collegiate athletics?
Cole: Rowing has been the ultimate test of my character and has been vital into shaping my core values. The team aspect of the sport is wildly underappreciated by those not familiar with rowing, but it has greatly benefited me as a person. Rowing has taught me how important it is to have complete faith in the people around you, and how you will get nothing done without that trust. I use this experience everyday, whether it be in the classroom, at work or with family and friends.
Crosby: Rowing, being a very traditional and old sport, has taught me about discipline, responsibility and adaptation to various situations. Waking up early every morning before the sun rises may seem like a curse, but without it my day is incomplete. Being active before classes allows me to wake up before everyone else, achieving more than what most do the whole day. It’s a boost to our confidence and forces us to prepare for the real world outside of Fairfield. Keeping a strict routine in an environment where you are given endless freedom can teach you more about life than any class offered.
Feliciano: Men’s rowing has helped me form better discipline and time management skills. As an engineering major, it is often difficult to balance homework and studying with morning practice and secondary practice. However, throughout the years I have found a way to do both and succeed. These time management skills can be brought over to my professional life when I start a career.
Saxe: Fairfield University rowing has helped me become more confident. I have learned to speak publicly during my time on the team, which is a great improvement from feeling light-headed when speaking publicly. I have been able to find lifelong friends who are like family.
Smith: Fairfield men’s rowing has helped shape me into the person I am today by showing me how to better myself with the help of others. The team has shown me that I can rely on others for help and support in times of need. I have learned as a rower to endure when it comes to hard tasks and that if I take it one step at a time, I will eventually reach the finish line.
Thompson: My time with Fairfield rowing has taught me discipline and time management in waking up early, getting work in with the team and also continuing to make sure that school and my social life remain priorities as well. From my experience as a member of the rowing team I found that it is really important to have an environment, culture and coaches that understand that while rowing is a big part of what we do here, it by no means defines us or should inhibit those on the team who strive for academic excellence or those who also juggle interviews, internships and jobs.
- How has your experience as an athlete during the coronavirus pandemic impacted your training regimen? How have you adapted your workouts at home, without access to the same facilities that were available to you on campus?
Cole: The pandemic has definitely taught me that all of the fancy machinery and equipment is not as necessary as you would think. I never thought I would be able to further progress in my training with limited resources, but this whole situation has taught me to keep everything in perspective and work with what I have been given, and the results will follow.
Crosby: Our coach, Casey Fuller, has made it a priority to hold us responsible for our own workout routine while we have been quarantined at home. Ergs are not cheap and most of the team does not have one in their homes, so we have adapted with endurance training including running and biking as often as possible. On top of that, we have weekly Zoom meetings with the whole team where we have guest speakers that educate and enlighten us on workout routines and how we can take the next step to become better athletes.
Feliciano: I would be lying if I said it was easy to motivate myself. It has been a hard couple of months, as my grandmother’s dementia is getting worse and my uncle recently passed away. I have to say to myself ‘just do it,’ and working out makes me feel better. I have also taken an erg home from campus and do body weight training.
Saxe: While at home I have been working more, so finding time to workout is difficult. While I’m at work I do squats and wall sits. At home I do online workout videos and take walks (usually carrying my lazy dog). It has been hard to get motivated to workout, but I know this is how I can show my team my commitment to this sport.
Smith: It has been very difficult as an athlete during the coronavirus pandemic. It was tough at first because I rely on the team to motivate me to practice, but I had to make some changes. My training has been adjusted to help self-motivate myself through constant reminders and a focus on what is best for myself and others who rely on me.
Thompson: The pandemic was obviously a terrible way to end the spring season that was effectively just beginning for our team. We had high hopes and had put a lot of work in during the off-season to improve upon the disappointing results we had last year. As we transitioned to workouts at home I found I was able to continue at a high level as I am fortunate to have equipment for lifting and also a bike which I use to maintain cardio. While not the same as rowing, being able to hike outside, bike and also lift more frequently has kept me in shape.
- Do you plan on accepting the extra year of eligibility that Fairfield Athletics has extended to you due to the cancellation of last spring’s season? Why or why not?
Cole: No, I do not plan on accepting my extra year of eligibility. I have been very fortunate to be a part of the team for these four years, but it wouldn’t be fair to the team to continue training without being able to give the team my full attention.
Crosby: No, I am not planning on accepting the extra year of eligibility. Although I would love to still be a part of the team for as long as possible, there is a reason college athletes only have four years on the team. I feel that by drawing out your time as a student athlete you’re holding on to your college experience after it has ended. If I would accept the extra year of eligibility I would be doing it for the wrong reasons. Rather than wanting to be an athlete I think being a student still in college is what excites and draws you to wanting to do a fifth year. I care more about my teammates than the sport itself, and by taking that spot as an experienced athlete you are taking it away from someone else.
Feliciano: I have not thought about taking the extra year of eligibility yet because I do not know if I will be attending graduate school yet. If I do end up attending graduate school at Fairfield, I will definitely take the extra year to be with my teammates. I know that once I stop being a part of the team I will miss it dearly. That is why I will try my best to be a leader for the team.
Saxe: I do plan on accepting the extra year of eligibility. Since I transferred to Fairfield, I had missed out on my first year of rowing at the collegiate level. I am hoping to stay for the fifth year education program and I know something would be missing if I was on campus and did not compete.
Smith: I am not planning on accepting the extra year of eligibility because I will need to move forward with my life. I am a student athlete, meaning I am a student first. When my time comes to an end as a student so will my time as a student athlete. It is important to move on and keep things rolling in life, or else we get stuck in the past. I plan on entering the professional workforce after my time at Fairfield is done.
Thompson: I do not plan on accepting the extra year of eligibility that has been granted due to the cancelled spring season. While I have enjoyed my years rowing for the university, it is important to move on, graduate and enter into the workforce which will be a new professional stage of my life. Staying to row another year would not be productive in my view and would be better served by taking a gap year, entering directly into a new job or continuing with graduate education.
- Lastly, what is one goal you hope to accomplish by the end of your tenure as a Stag?
Cole: I would love for our varsity four to be able to medal at the Head of the Charles Regatta this year. Those guys are the hardest workers I know. Being able to push them everyday at practice has been my greatest joy as a teammate. It would be incredible for the program as a whole, and I think this is the year that goal can become a reality.
Crosby: One goal that I hope to accomplish by the end of my tenure as a Stag is to be proud of what I have accomplished. I already have many things to be proud of, so in a way I have already accomplished what I want to achieve. I want to take every opportunity that is offered and maximize the outcome by giving it my all. Nothing can change the season that we lost but what we can change is how we perform next year. I can promise you that nothing will be taken for granted within the next year, and I won’t be missing any practices because you never know if it could be your last.
Feliciano: One goal that I hope to accomplish at the end of my senior year is to break six minutes and 50 seconds on the erg for my 2,000 meter test. I have hit a wall trying to break it since freshman year, and I really want to prove to myself and my teammates that I can do it.
Saxe: I hope to become more confident in my leadership roles in the future. As a future educator, it is important to be able to feel confident in the classroom.
Smith: My goal at the end of my tenure as a Stag is to become a faster rower than I have ever been before, as well as coming to enjoy every second I have with the team. I want to work hard to become faster as well as appreciate my time with the team during my last year at Fairfield.
Thompson: I hope to continue getting faster and reaching new PRs while rowing and hope that the team’s work ethic will be rewarded with top finishes at races this fall.
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