March 17, 2009
Senior Rob O'Leary (Fayetteville, N.Y.) goes into his third season as the coxswain of the Varsity 8, and looks to wrap up an already distinguished career with an IRA gold in June. Recently he took the time to answer five questions about his experience at Brown.
1) Describe your career at Brown and the boats that you have been a part of.
A: I raced in the Freshman eight my freshman year at Brown, and was in the first Varsity eight as a sophomore and junior. Sophomore year was highlighted by a fourth place finish in the varsity eight at the IRA national championships, followed by a trip to the Henley Royal Regatta in England, where we advanced to the semifinal round in the Ladies' Plate division. Junior year was highlighted by an undefeated regular dual season in the varsity eight, followed by winning the Ivy League championship and earning First Team All Ivy honors. Lastly, my senior fall I steered the varsity eight to a second place finish in the Head of The Charles Regatta.
2) What has been your favorite Brown crew memory?
A: One of my favorite memories with the team has been traveling to England following my sophomore season and racing in the Henley Royal Regatta. This event has a long history dating back to the 1800's, and was unlike anything we had experienced before. The five days of racing are head-to-head, single elimination, with thousands of spectators lining the narrow race course and a covered grandstand that follows a strict dress code. It was exciting to represent Brown against other international crews, and despite our loss in the semifinal, this was an amazing experience for me.
3) How did you get into coxing, and did you do so in high school? Have you ever played any other sports? What other activities are you involved in at Brown?
A: Before high school I began rowing with a small club team for fun, then got into coxing a few years later. After helping form my high school's crew team during junior year, I began competing more seriously as a coxswain and started racing at a much higher level. Growing up as a kid I got really involved in the sport of alpine ski racing. Until coming to Brown, I spent my winters traveling around the northeast and racing each weekend. Skiing is still a passion of mine, but I've definitely missed the competitive side since then.
Outside the team I really enjoy skiing and playing golf. I've also spent time working and volunteering in different hospitals.
4) How do you view your role on the team? Do you feel as though you have different responsibilities from a rower?
A: My role on the team as a coxswain is definitely unique. I act as the eyes, ears, and voice of the crew. The job demands a great deal of leadership and I have to be constantly aware of what's happening on the water. Leading up to the season it's important for me to gain the absolute trust of the rowers. Come race day, I have to make on-the-fly decisions that can make or break a race and the eight rowers must back me up for our boat to be successful.
5) What would be your advice to an incoming freshman?
Take advantage of your opportunity at Brown to try new things, but don't be afraid to fully commit yourself to something you love. If you have the determination to make an impact here, your experience will be very special both inside and outside the classroom.