Men’s rowing builds timeless skills

Athletes prepare for upcoming races. Their next race will be held in Gold River, Cal. on Sunday, May 13. The time is to be determined.

Katie Morton, Practicum Contributor

No. 17 men’s rowing rowing races in the Pac-12 Championship May 13.

On top of balancing classes and a social life, Oregon State University men’s rowing athletes practice six times per week.

OSU men’s rowing team, which is ranked No. 17 nationally, is full of young, hard- working students who believe in themselves and their team, according to associate head coach and recruiting coordinator, Dameon Engblom.

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“The thing that I like about rowing is the order it brings to your life,” Baxter Call, senior rower said. “I know that no matter what I have going in the classroom or I’ve got some family issues or relationship issues that I’m struggling with, I know that I can come to practice, give it 100 percent effort and feel fulfilled and good about myself afterwards.”

Call credits rowing and his family’s hobby of white water rafting in deciding to pursue environmental engineering.

“My family has been really big into white water rafting,” Call said. “We’ve gone every summer since I remember. It’s been a really cool hobby to have. It’s an extreme sport. I think it’s helped fuel my passion for water and water resources that kinda drove me into environmental engineering.”

Call said he chose OSU because it aligned with his ideals.

“The hardest part about being a student athlete, truthfully, is feeling like you’re not progressing as quickly as you or your coach would like,” Call said. “Or not performing to the standard you or your coach set for yourself. That can be very frustrating.”

Engblom thinks that even though rowing is hard, it teaches young people timeless values and skills.

“I think it’s the best choice as a discipline to pursue for any young person, especially at the high school to college stage in their development,” Engblom said. “It’s the most self- challenging sport that I’ve ever found, meaning it’s you against you with seven or so other teammates with you doing the same thing.”

The team practices every day except Sunday, according to Engblom.

Hunter Smith, a junior who is majoring in mechanical engineering, recalls the first time he wanted to do rowing.

“I was in middle school and I was watching the 2008 Olympics and I saw rowing on TV and I said, ‘Oh. That looks neat.’ So I talked to my parents and started rowing,” Smith said.

Neall Koetje, senior majoring in kinesiology, participated in the walk-on program and became part of the team despite never rowing before coming to college.

“For the walk-ons you have four weeks to prove yourself to the team and then there is an evaluation at the end so those first four weeks are really hard,” Koetje said. “Probably the hardest I’ve ever worked. I was in the best shape during those first four weeks.”

Koetje also said that his favorite part of being on the team was the bonds he made within the team and the importance of having a shared mindset.

“I think it’s the time commitment that people don’t see. It’s the time management, doing the little things and recovering after workouts,” Koetje said. “The workouts are hard. The races are hard, but it’s the Sunday afternoons where you’re sitting around, you’re really tired from the week before and you got to do homework, but you have to stretch. You have to get active. You’ve got to keep moving. It’s all those little things that you have to do to stay fit and stay competitive.”

After their most recent meet against No. 8 Stanford this past Saturday, Third Varsity 8 crew was the only win of the day. OSU will head to the Pac-12 Championships May 13 in Gold River, Cal.

For more information on the OSU men’s rowing team, visit or on Twitter at 

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