One-on-One: Joel Weng '17

by Annie Ma | 7/2/15 6:49pm

How would you categorize this season?

JW: Our results at Eastern Sprints weren’t great. It was one of worst performances we’ve had since I’ve been here. It’s unfortunate because things looked promising early in the year. Even in the winter people were getting really fit, and our coaches were saying that this was going be our year. But at sprints things just didn’t fall into place. I wouldn’t call it a bad season, just a bad end but we’re looking ahead to next year.

What do you love about crew at Dartmouth?

JW: There’s a lot more beyond high school. Obviously, there are nicer facilities, and the boats are pretty fantastic. One of the big differences is that being on a Division 1 varsity program, there’s a very high level of expectation. We’re expected to perform at our very best every day. I wasn’t used to that in high school. Crew was mainly a social outlet. It might be fun, it might be a way to relax. But here, the goal every day, every minute we spend rowing, is winning at championships. The coaches make that very clear. Crew is one of those sports that, unless you fall in love with it, it makes no sense to do. It takes a lot of hard work and patience. How well you do at championships is determined by everything. It’s honestly determined before you get there. All the work the year before leads up to that. But there’s something magical about the way, or the feeling and sense of the boat moving perfectly. That’s something that all rowers strive for. I can’t describe in words how great it feels. The passion that a lot of people on the team share is one thing I love the most, and it really brings the team together.

How did you get started rowing/have you rowed before?

JW: I started rowing my senior year of high school. It was definitely too late for recruiting, but I came in with the intention of walking on to the team. It’s one of the most amazing things about my Dartmouth experience and I can’t imagine Dartmouth without it.

What’s it like being removed from the season training now that it’s summer?

JW: If you talk to the rowers, they’ll tell you there’s no off-season even though, technically, we’re not in season during the summer. You have to be in the best shape you can be, and that means training every day of the year. In the summer, we don’t have formal practice, but we have a summer training camp. It’s a little bit different from the rest of the year, but still pretty rigourous. We’re out on the water a lot, really trying to take advantage of the weather.

What’s it like being a student-athlete?

JW: It’s definitely a big step up from high school in terms of the level of competition and commitment. I knew it was going to be hard. My first year, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it through, but we had a big walk-on class that bonded so well. There have obviously been times where I thought of quitting, but when I really think about it, there’s no way I could actually go through with it.

What are your goals for the upcoming season and the incoming class?

JW: The recruiting class is already determined, but there’s always a lot potential in the walk-ons. Some of the best talent in the past 5 years have come from strong, fit guys who had never rowed before. People like swimmers or runners, where their sport is a big part of their life but they just have never heard of crew before.

Personally, as a walk-on athlete, you’re not at the same level as some of the recruits. I definitely want to strive to make a bigger contribution to the team next season. Beyond that, probably to become closer with everyone, be better friends with everyone on the team. Of course, we’re close now, but I want to take that even further.