Everyday Champion -- Sam Schwartz
May 5, 2009
Corvallis, Ore. -
With an enrollment of fewer than 200, Corbett High School in east Multnomah County (Portland) is one of the smaller public schools in the state. It’s the alma mater of sophomore rower Sam Schwartz, who credits growing up in that environment for being a successful student-athlete at Oregon State University.
“Going to a small school was great; I wouldn’t have traded it for a big school at all,” Schwartz said. “I think it really helps you learn a lot more about values and how to work with people since you are around the same people you have known since grade school. You can’t just go find a new group of friends.”
Schwartz, however, has found a new group of friends or more accurately teammates at OSU. He is a member of the No. 16 ranked Beavers, a team that is preparing for the Pac-10 Championships May 17 and hopeful participation in next month’s Intercollegiate Rowing Association national championships.
Continue reading more about Sam Schwartz below…
Q. How did you get started in rowing?
A. My dad was a rower in college at Boston University, so he got me into it. I didn’t row in high school, but I was decent at other sports. I decided to come to OSU and give rowing a try and I made the team as a walk-on.
Q. Did your dad encourage you to row at all?
A. My dad saw how I could work in high school, and the kind of effort I put in there. He thought I would be a good fit for it (rowing). He came down to California for the last race we had (Stanford Invitational), so he has been supportive.
Q. How did you make the first contact with the rowing coaches?
A. When I came here it wasn’t an official visit for athletics or anything, it was just a tour to see what the university was like. I called Dave Friedericks, who was the freshman coach at the time, and asked about how I would go through the process. There is actually a PAC (physical activity course) class that you sign up for, and once it is completed you try out for the team.
Q. Do you remember your first experience in a shell?
A. I’ve been fishing out in boats and stuff like that, but a shell is nothing like it. It was interesting; they are much narrower -- closer to the water than you would expect. I don’t really know how to describe it. They are hard to balance.
Q. What do you get out of rowing?
A. Rowing has helped me make a lot of connections with people here that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I like to work hard. I’m competitive, so it has helped me stay on track. It’s what I like to do. I think it has actually helped me with my classes and in school.
Q. People who row say it is the ultimate team sport. How much do you count on each other in the shell?
A. Rowing is both the ultimate team sport and an individual sport. In practice you work out on the rowing machines, and your best time usually determines which boat you go into, what seat you are and things like that. But as a team you have to be in perfect unison, one guy screws up and it is going to make the whole boat slower. The teams that perform the best are not the biggest and strongest; they are the teams that work together the best.
Q. How did playing sports at Corbett (Ore.) high school help you to where you are now?
A. I played soccer, track and wrestling. I was a decent soccer player, and wrestler, which I think helped me the most in terms of learning how to work hard and push myself. I came close to making it to the state tournament (wrestling) my senior year. I took sixth at state in the 300-meter hurdles and in the 4x400 relay. But all of that was at a 2A level, which is for pretty small schools. I really couldn’t have made it in college in any of those sports.
Q. What do you hope to do with your construction engineering degree?
A. My goal is to be a project manager at a big general contractor, to manage large projects and just be involved with the construction industry. My dad owns a small electrical contracting business, and I work there over the summer, so I have been around that environment.
Q. What have you found to be the most difficult aspect of your major?
A. The amount of time I have to put in. It depends, some terms are easier and some terms are harder. It’s been pretty tough lately; I have definitely had to cut down on sleep to keep up with practice and school.
Q. What have you found to be the most pleasing aspect of your major?
A. The classes toward the end of the degree requirement are typically the ones that have some sort of a project. With that you really get to see the application; like one of my classes we had to design a subdivision. We had to lay it out; lay out the lots and stuff like that. Being able to do that was like, `Hey, this is actually teaching me what I am really going to do.’
Q. What has your experience at Oregon State been like?
A. It has been a good experience; I like the friendly atmosphere and the community. I heard OSU had a good engineering school, so that part has been great.
Q. Are you happy with your decision to attend OSU?
A. Yes. The other two schools that I looked at were Stanford and potentially MIT, or another school on the east coast. I decided I really didn’t want to move that far away. Looking at how Stanford would have been, and how much it would have cost, you can get probably the best education for the money (at Oregon State).
Q. How have you been successful as a student athlete?
A. I have been successful starting in grade school and all the way through high school -- it is mostly about setting expectations. The same way it works with sports; I set goals and work as hard as I can to meet those expectations. People say a lot about time management and setting aside time for certain things, but the bottom line is just going to class and getting your work done --that’s why I succeed.
Q. There are a lot of kids coming into college having played multiple sports. Why should they consider rowing?
A. One thing I learned is that in order to be a rower it helps to be tall. Oregon State is one of the only schools that actively seek people like me. The freshman coach goes out and looks for the athletes that were good at the other sports in high school. If you have the capacity to work hard enough, you can be a good rower. We have built a fairly successful program off of that idea; if you work hard enough you can make it.
Q. What are the responsibilities of the bow seat in a shell?
A. Everyone has to pull hard, everyone works together. I have a little more responsibility than most as far as setting the boat and keeping it level, and also maybe calling out if someone’s technique is off since I can see everyone else in the boat. But, for the most part, I have to concentrate on my own stroke.