An Olympic Rowing Crew: A Balance of Personalities

An Olympic Rowing Crew: A Balance of Personalities

An Olympic Rowing Crew: A Balance of Personalities

Posted on April 5 by Jeremiah Brown in Non-fiction
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Once we had earned our seats in the boat, our bowman, Gabe Bergen, gave each of us a spirit animal to represent our appearance and personality. Here’s my take on each of my teammates.

Gabe Bergen - Diviner of Spirit Animals

Gabe was the oldest at age 30. Gabe is his own inimitable entity. On first glance, you’d think his perpetually scruffy beard and gleaming eyes were telling of his wisdom. Well, you’d be right. Gabe knew just what to say, and when to say it, to bring either comedic relief in training or the right perspective in competition.

Doug Csima - Raccoon

Doug was the team’s accountant. If you missed a training session, he noted it in his ledger. Like the raccoon, he was mischievous. He could argue both sides of any argument, and he used his cunning to deflate any rising egos. On the flip side, Doug would be the one to help you rationalize that you were about to turn the corner during a week of poor performance.

Conlin McCabe - Hippo                     

Conlin, the youngest at age 21, wore his heart on his sleeve. The biggest and most powerful athlete in our crew, Conlin was light hearted off the water. He loved screaming encouragement in the middle of an excruciating effort, and cracking jokes in the locker room. He was our bigger little brother.

Rob Gibson - Mustang

Rob’s determination ran deep. I’ve met few people capable of enduring as much pain as Rob. Who knows what source of motivation allowed him to row at an elite level for over ten years - perhaps Rob doesn’t even know. Like the mustang, he roams free. Charming and pleasant off the water, he enjoyed his alone time with a good book in hand.

Malcolm Howard - Great Dane

Malcolm was our leader in the middle of the boat. He said guys a lot. Guys, we gotta.. Guys, stay composed... Guys, focus on the race plan… Guys… He’d stand right in front of you and look you in the eye. He didn’t suffer fools easily, and maybe he went on to become an anesthesiologist so that he could make them unconscious.

Andrew Byrnes - Ostrich

Like the ostrich, Andrew was an unassuming type. His cool nature belied his intensity on the water. As my roommate during international travel, Andrew had a calming effect on me. When my anxiety threatened to bubble over and overwhelm me, Andrew always had a few simple words to put me at ease. He read magazines with great interest the night before a big race - a remarkable ability to stay in the present.

Will Crothers - Red-tailed Hawk

Gabe probably chose a hawk for Will because he was a predator on the water, attacking all challengers. His relentlessness was frustrating. Like a hawk, he had the best poker face, the same intense gaze. Off the water, he was daring and restless. You might find him skateboarding in his driveway, or flipping backwards off a cliff into the water below.

Brian Price - Weasel

Brain was our crafty coxswain. The weasel being a natural predator, Brian shared our competitive fire. It was his task to figure out what made each of us tick. In the boathouse, he kept his ear to the ground, and tried to intercept any perceived interference from external distractions: politics, travel plans, resource allocation. Brian was always working to steer things in our favour, on and off the water.