Athlete Focus: Booker T. Washington Freshman Thomas

How long have you been rowing?

I started to learn how to row back in the beginning of my 8th grade year in middle school, with the gROWth program twice a week. Instantly I fell in love with the strength, repetition, and flow of rowing, how essential teamwork really is in this sport. I continued gROWth for 2 seasons, until the end of that year. It really gave me the foundations in erging and on the water that I needed to improve upon. Once I had begun my novice year, I knew this was the team for me. Practice 6 days a weeks and workouts that make you want to quit, it was the perfect environment to condition me for improvement. Now, coming to the relative end of my novice year, I feel that I have learned much and there is still a lot to be learned.

Are your results worth all of the training?

The real prize that you get from rowing, isn’t a medal if you win or if you don’t. It rowing a race, with every ounce of strength and power that you have in your body, and knowing that you left everything on that racecourse. Also, it’s fun to win. I mean who doesn’t love being praised for hours and hours of hard work. In the Dallas, SWEAT competition I think that I achieved everything that I wanted to. I set my personal record, ranked 2nd, and left everything on that erg. So, yes it was definitely worth almost 2 years of training for that honor.

Thomas finishing second at the SWEAT indoor regional championship in Dallas, TX

What would you say to other middle school and high school students who are considering rowing?

If you are looking for something new and different, you have found it. Rowing is not an easy sport, whatsoever. When you have practice 6 days a week, you’ll know what I mean. Besides being hard and physically draining, its also very enjoyable and great for you. You’ll quickly build a community of rowing friends, and discover that you want to come to practice every day. We also travel around quite a bit to various regattas and indoor erging competitions. Everyone on the team builds constant friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. I encourage anyone that is even remotely interested to come out and try it for a week, see how it feels, and then possibly join our team.

What are your goals for the future?

There are many goals I have for myself in rowing as a sport. I would like to eventually set my 2K PR below 6:30, also place 1st at the SWEAT indoor competition. There are many small goals that I set weekly for myself as well, improving technique in sculling and sweeping are the big ones. Another big goal of mine, is to hopefully row in college. Even if its not a Division I school, I would really like to row in any college. I am trying my best to keep myself on track for those goals.

What is the hardest thing you have done in rowing so far?

The hardest thing about being a member of TYRA, is probably giving it your all, every day. With practice being every day of the week, with the exception of Sundays, its truly very hard in the beginning to go to practice and give it your all. No matter how hard the workout is, or how long the row is, or even how challenging the erg workout may be, you still must try as hard as you can and finish. We have a saying here at TYRA, ‘the good thing about rowing is that its a sport that you can pass out first, before you can give up.’ That is one of the most motivational quotes that I’ve heard my coach say. It makes you not want to quit and to push through the pain to achieve the great feeling of finishing a workout. That has held true with me ever since I started, and is what drives me to give it my all.

Are you ready to start your journey?