Nich Parker | Assistant Men’s Lightweight Coach | Men’s Rowing | Columbia University

Describe the qualities that your program is looking for in a potential student-athlete?

When looking for rowers, I’m looking for guys who fit into the following description of our team culture. The team is one of the top academic performers within the athletic department and we are set on continuing that. We are also continually improving as a team and building up a group that has a intense focus on being competitive nationally. We are looking for athletes who want to win or will die trying to. We are looking for guys who don’t walk to practice, but run to it. Excited about it and the chance to get faster. A critical thing I want to get across is that I want guys who have their heads up when things are down and keep their heads down and focused when things are going well. There’s little wiggle room in this program for guys who aren’t committed to showing up everyday.

Additionally, self-motivation is critical. At Columbia, the academic load is pretty high, so we want athletes who can do a second workout on their own, scheduling it at their convenience around their class schedule.

Could you give us an example of a current or former player who exceeded your expectations, highlighting the reasons that player excelled?

There is a current junior at Columbia who arrived with some talent, but it was not developed. His physiological “engine” so to speak had yet to mature. During his freshmen year, we planned our final ergometer test and when he sat down to do it, he got a massive 20 second personal best. This is one of the best improvements I’ve known. Additionally, he is a tough racer. This kid will push himself to failure everytime we do something hard. If someone beats him, it’s quite painful for them. Sometimes those opponents don’t want to pay that price again and he is always willing to. I’d like to give more specific examples, but the reason this guy stands out is because he is an “everyday” guy. Maybe one of the best I’ve seen in the last three years at Columbia and my previous two years at Yale.