When the rest of the Class of 2016 is graduating, the men’s rowing team will travel north to Worcester, Mass. to compete at least one last time in the Eastern Sprints.
Interim Provost Forrest Maltzman, men’s rowing head coach Mark Davis and team captain Daniel Henry all took to the podium to recognize the obstacles the athletes overcame on their way to graduation that should inspire them to keep going.
1. GW is like water
After Maltzman welcomed the family and friends of the athletes he shifted his focus to one of the few examples of rowing in the spotlight and New York Times bestseller, Boys in the Boat.
He quoted George Pocock, who built racing shells, and applied his words to the graduating seniors’ experiences throughout college.
“It is hard to make that boat go as fast as you want it to,” Maltzman said, quoting Pocock. “The enemy of course is the resistance of water, as you have to displace the amount of water equal to the weight of the men and equipment. But, that very water is what supports you and that very enemy is your friend.”
Maltzman said he wanted the graduates to remember that just like in rowing, challenges can become strength in life.
“I hope your experience at GW is sort of like water. We ask you to take classes that were outside of your comfort zone, to live in a diverse community and even have a roommate. These are experiences that make you better,” said Maltzman. “Like water, you time at GW should also be your friend. If you accept the lessons you have learned, I have no doubt that you will go faster and further because of GW. “
2. Missed, not forgotten
In his seventh commencement speech to his team, Davis reflected on the inevitable process of rowers coming and going, and said it doesn’t get any easier.
“We treat our team like a family, so it is never easy to let go. I have had the privilege to coach these six men for the past four years and have them as a part of our family,” said Davis. “You will be missed but you will never be forgotten.”
He told the graduates the intensity of their sport will prepare them for the future.
“Nothing I can say right now can come close to what you’ve learned about yourself and each other for the past four years on the river,” said Davis. “You know hardship, frustration, perseverance, joy – and that was just in this morning’s practice.”
3. Remembering a teammate
As the team captain, Henry spoke at the podium about his fellow graduates, highlighting the team’s perseverance after one of their teammates died in September.
“At that time I spoke about the strength of bonds and mutual respect that rowing creates between teammates. It is those bonds, that trust and our relationship as a team that carries us through tough times like that and makes sharing achievements like today even more gratifying,” Henry said.
Like these photos? You can purchase your personal photo from this graduation ceremony online at: www.hatchetphotos.com