The Lumberjack’s Lesson: How “The Boys in the Boat” Prefigures the Making of an Elite Rower

The Lumberjack’s Lesson: How “The Boys in the Boat” Prefigures the Making of an Elite Rower

Before they were Olympians, before they even held an oar, the young men of the 1936 University of Washington rowing team were forged in the fires of the Great Depression. Joe Rantz, one of the book’s central figures, labored in the forests as a lumberjack, and it’s this experience that serves as a powerful metaphor for aspiring rowers today.

As horses strained to pull massive tree trunks from the woods, I was struck by the image. In my mind’s eye, these logs transformed into racing shells, each one vying to reach the finish line first. The horses’ herculean effort to move these logs echoed the collective strength, will, and teamwork needed to propel a boat forward in a race.

So why does this matter to you, the parent of a potential rowing star? Much like Joe Rantz, your child is already in the process of building the strength and resilience that will later prove invaluable on the water. My mission, as someone who has reached the pinnacle of this demanding sport, is to guide your child in honing these attributes before they even set foot in a boat. The sooner we start, the better prepared they will be to navigate the competitive and challenging world of rowing.

Reading “The Boys in the Boat” is a wonderful journey for me, taking me back in time and allowing me to compare the emotions I felt when I won the Olympic gold medal and the national championship with Brown University. The beauty of teamwork, the blending of nine distinct personalities in a boat, and the incredible power unleashed when all move in unison towards a common goal is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

The clock is ticking, and the opportunity to give your child a competitive edge in life, as well as in rowing, is now. Just like those logs in the forest, your child’s potential is waiting to be harnessed and directed towards greatness.