Pac-10 Q&A with Will Dean, California Rowing

Jan. 29, 2009

Ten Minutes with Will Dean

After redshirting in 2006, William Dean rowed as part of the freshman 8 boat that won titles at the IRA Regatta and Pac-10 Championships. The English major was named Canadian Indoor Rowing Champion Male Athlete of the Year in 2005. Dean played basketball and rugby, skied, and swam in high school. In addition, he placed eighth in the cross country Canadian nationals. Courtesy of Will gives a shout-out to his parents - 'thanks for being so supportive...'

What I’m reading... Passing by Nella Larsen. The novel is about a black character who can “pass” in white society. Larsen makes clear, too, that Passing can also mean dying, and the character worries of losing both her identity and life. I’m reading the book for an English class, African American Narrative since 1900.
Favorite athlete to watch... Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics. He shows passion  when he plays and is undeniably committed to winning. Garnett sacrifices individual scoring opportunities and accolades for a more cohesive, championship quality team. Kevin Garnett
Talent I’d most like to have... I would really like to be able to breathe underwater, whether via gills or innate ability. I tend to spend significant time in the water, so the talent would come in handy. In fact, I’ve competed as a swimmer a bunch in my past, both in the pool and open water. Every summer I participate in the Okanagan Lake swim (2km) back home in Kelowna.
Favorite California memory... Recently I had the good fortune of meeting some Golden Bear alumni at our annual Class Day races. It was eye-opening to interact with people who have a great amount of passion and personal investment in our club even though they have long since graduated. Cal crew has made a positive impact on their lives, so much so that they have pledged their time and financial resources to supporting our program.

I met a guy by the name of Don Alden at training camp at  Sacramento’s Lake Natoma (site of the Pac-10 Rowing Championships). Don enrolled at Cal as a member of the class of 1944. But World War II caused him to interrupt his studies and he ultimately graduated in 1948. Don is now in his 90s, meaning that he rowed for the Cal crew team nearly 70 years ago. He continues to come out and watch us compete whenever possible and also ergs quite frequently. Hearing stories from Don about his college experience and ordeals of the time, the “problems” I complain about in rowing (e.g. erg test) seem insignificant. He’s offered me incredible perspective.

The sport I’m the worst at...  I’m not very good at volleyball. I attempted to play beach volleyball for a bit before acknowledging I just didn’t have the necessary coordination. Thinking back on it, actually, I might have even played one year of hard court volleyball in Grade 6. I had very limited success even though I gave full effort. Sad... Diving men
Teammate with whom I would trade places for a day... I’d love to trade places with the coxswain. I have a tremendous amount of respect for what they do. Our coxswains are really good; they are technically knowledgeable, savvy about when to make calls, and are both authoritative and positive in commanding our boats. Plus, I would love to boss people around for a day. Not going to lie, it would be nice to take a break from rowing, too.
If I could cook dinner for one famous person, dead or alive, it would be... Barack Obama. I’m really inspired by him and his accomplishments over the past few months. There is one caveat, though: I’m a terrible cook. Therefore, I think our entree would be as simple as possible so as to minimize my opportunity to screw it up. One of my favorite meals is sockeye salmon paired with potatoes and vegetables. Gotta keep Mr. President and myself healthy so we both can stay on top of our games. Sockeye salmon
Favorite workout... I love any opportunity we get to race. I think that’s the reason we all row. The thrill of competing against other people is what keeps the sport fun, no matter the distance (though 2K is my preference). In particular, I think it is exciting to perpetually face a fierce challenger like WASHINGTON. The rivalry that we have with the Huskies is a really cool tradition. Each program’s competitiveness motivates the other team to train hard and be the best. There is a lot of respect between our two programs.
Most amusing part of sharing a boat with 8 other guys... You get to know everyone well. There’s a certain trust that is developed within the boat when everyone’s invested in a common effort and goal. The closeness that comes from our shared training and passion is a camaraderie that is hard to associate with other sports. Not surprising, our boat has inside jokes galore. Oftentimes when I return home to Canada for a vacation, I will start to say something and then realize that no one has any idea what I’m talking about.
How I narrowed my sights on rowing... My family owned a rowing machine and stored it in our basement. A magazine came with the machine that featured international rowing opportunities and collegiate scholarship eligibility. I read in the magazine that even novices could be recruited. Having never rowed before, I researched the top finishes from the Canadian indoor regattas to get a sense of competitive rowing times. The winning time that year was 6:12, so I set a goal of matching that time on the erg in the basement. I eventually set a standard a bit quicker than 6:12. I was fortunate to get recruited by both Washington and California.
Amusing differences between American and Canadian cultures... Somehow I avoided ever adopting a Canadian accent, but I say a few words that catch Americans off-guard. For instance, during a volunteer session at Sports4Kids in Oakland, a Grade 2 girl with whom I was reading said, “Where has the dog been?” I corrected her, stating that the correct pronunciation was, “Where has the dog bean?” Fortunately the teacher was standing nearby and cleared up the confusion for both of us! Otherwise, when Americans say bathroom, I say washroom. And I call a couch chesterfield. Canadian flag
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