The upcoming months will be jam-packed with rowing for Western Washington University’s men’s crew captain and president Carl Smith. The 2015 spring season for the team is now in full swing, but competing doesn’t end at the conclusion of the 2015 ACRA National Championship for the WWU senior.
Smith has been selected to a 15-man sweep crew team that will represent the United States this summer in Gwangju, South Korea, at the World University Games.
“It’s an honor,” Smith said in a phone interview. “Rowing has always been a team sport and it’s a credit to the team. To go represent the U.S. at this level, it’s a direct representation of the people around me.”
In the World University Games, there will be 10,000 athletes representing around 170 countries, Smith said. For the United States, oarsman representing collegiate teams include the University of Washington, Drexel, University of North Carolina, University of Michigan, Grand Valley, Oklahoma City University, Purdue and UCLA will compete alongside Smith this summer.
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The World University Games are set to begin July 3 and end July 14. The men’s rowing events take place from July 3 through July 5.
“It’s a huge honor in itself (to train with my future teammates). To be with them and do right by the U.S. will be an honor,” he said. “I’m excited to train and more excited to race with them.”
The training to become a member of the team began as soon as he became a member of the WWU men’s rowing team, he said. Coming to WWU is what really got him into the sport.
“I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, and there were a couple clubs down there. I really got started here at Western,” Smith said. “To the credit of my coach Jack Marolich and all the guys I’ve rowed with all these years. I got hooked on a personal level; the whole culture really attracts me.”
As a current senior at WWU, Smith is looking to take full advantage of the opportunities rowing has provided him for as long as he can, knowing that his competing days are limited.
“Rowing is definitely my focus right now,” he said. “You have such a finite amount of time to be at a point where you can compete like this.”
Following the ACRA National Championships, which begin on May 23, Smith will be flying straight to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to begin training with the U.S. team for the World University Games.
The University of Michigan men’s rowing coach Gregg Hartsuff will be coaching the U.S. team in South Korea — a coach Smith is excited to train with.
“He’s a really good guy and has done a lot with the Michigan program as well,” he said.
For Smith, the trip to South Korea will be the furthest he has traveled. Something he said he’s looking forward to, but once in South Korea his main focus is on rowing.
“It will be a pretty big change for me to go outside the U.S. and see a different caliber of racing,” he said. “My main focus is racing and representing the U.S. and Western properly. Do right by everyone that got me here and be good to the host country.”
But with the WWU men’s rowing season underway, Smith’s focus is on competing for the Vikings, he said. The men’s rowing team has won two conference championships in the past three years.
“We’re looking to go back and be on top of the conference again this year,” Smith said.
While the result of this collegiate season for Smith is still unknown, what is certain is he has been selected as one of the top rowers in the United States at the collegiate level.
“It’s humbling to be put in the same category as these guys. There all tremendous athletes and tremendous people,” Smith said.