This past weekend when the U.S. Junior National Men’s Rowing Team was announced, Unionville High School’s Nathan Smith’s name was on the roster. Along with 21 other athletes (19 rowers and 2 coxswains) from around the country, Newport Rowing Club’s Nathan Smith was selected to represent the U.S. and travel to Plovdiv, Bulgaria, next month to compete in the World Rowing Junior Championships, against more than 600 junior athletes from 50 countries.
While most kids his age are vacationing with their families, working a summer job, or enjoying some relaxing downtime with friends before their last year of high school, that’s not the summer Nathan Smith is experiencing. Instead, after just a week off from school, Newport Rowing Club’s Nathan Smith headed off to Kent, CT, then Camden, NJ, and finally to Princeton, to practice 2 times a day, sometimes 3, in record-breaking heat, rowing thousands of meters a day…and loving every minute of it.
“I can’t think of a better way to spend the summer,” says Smith. “I’ve had this incredible experience doing something I love every single day with others who love the sport just like me.”
And all of his hard work is paying off, too.
“This has been a dream of mine since I started rowing – to be on the Junior National Team. And now that it has become a reality, it’s a little hard to believe, “ says Smith. “I’m really looking forward to the competition at Worlds and going to Bulgaria, too. This will be my first trip to Europe, and what a great reason to visit.”
NRC’s Executive Director and also Nathan’s mother, Susan Smith, recalls, “It seems almost a lifetime ago when we first signed Nathan up for rowing camp. He had tried a bunch of different sports, and there just wasn’t anything that really excited him…until rowing. After that summer of rowing, his life took on an incredible focus, and he hasn’t stopped since.”
NRC Head Coach John Cohn added, “We’ve seen it happen time and time again to kids like Nathan who have struggled at sports or didn’t necessarily consider themselves athletes. It’s something about pulling together as a team and supporting your teammates that is very special to rowing.”
And with Unionville High School’s Smith heading into his senior year, colleges are taking notice, too, including many of the Ivies and other top schools with elite rowing programs.
“After Worlds, I’m definitely looking forward to making some college visits. I’ve started looking at some programs, but right now my focus is on the Junior World Championships.
And after that, what are Nathan’s plans?
“Well, there’s my senior year in high school, then college. At this point I can’t imagine my life without rowing. Eventually, I’d love to make the U.S. Men’s National Rowing Team and to compete in the Olympics, but for now I just want to focus on Junior Worlds,” says Smith.