February 7, 2002

A Winter Season on the Ergometer

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A young man hisses continuously: rhythmically, powerfully, and cyclically. He is neither angry, nor upset. He is focused on the goal ahead. A quiet beast that slowly grows stronger, tougher, sharper.

This is a small glimpse into the life of one anonymous young man who strives to better himself and the team. Unknowingly and unintentionally, he redefines the term “man.”

The hissing comes from an indoor rowing machine called an ergometer or erg for short. I’m sure that you all have seen one in a health spa before. The Cornell crew heads indoors this time of year and has several weekly appointments with Mr. Erg.

Nobody asks him to do any extra workouts. Nobody expects him to. He does not aim to please others for this does not matter in his mind. These selfless sessions are a necessity of a man, a racer. He thinks, “What’s Harvard doing now? Brown? Princeton? Cal? Washington?”

This enflamed passion and pursuit of victory drives him. The goal must be met. A championship.

He continues in his daily pattern: arise, eat, listen, write, sweat, talk, eat, listen, write, sweat, talk, eat, read, write, sleep.

Some still call the heavyweight 1V boat’s success last year a fluke. Maybe yes, maybe no. No matter. We were underdogs, hungry for respect. That was the key — acting like a bunch of wild kids always swinging for the fence.

I feel that our young man epitomizes this hungry underdog role. This role is one that all of us must continue to play. The Red crew is frequently an afterthought in the minds of Cornellians, but we know better. We believe. Our young man understands the situation and is careful to avoid resting on our laurels.

There are perennial favorites, perennial losers, and numerous gray contenders. This gray ocean is vast and volatile. To emerge once again from the shadows will be difficult, but not impossible. Our regular training team practices can only take us so far. In order to take that extra step, the little things need addressing, such as solid sleep, healthy meals, and some extra workouts.

Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate said it best, “Stay small, stay innocuous. Never let’em see you coming.”

That’s good advice. Go about business, quietly, and when it is primetime, come out with guns blazing.

The portrait of a good man is a model for others to follow. His philosophies and physical manifestations of such thoughts are enviable and worthy of duplication. All of us should strive to be such a man this young man.

He is a quiet racer. Lurking. A quiet beast who slowly grows stronger, tougher, and sharper. He is neither angry nor upset. He is focused on the goal ahead. A young man hisses continuously: rhythmic, powerful, and cyclical.

Archived article by Donald Lee