Steve Rosts: Volunteering Builds A Life Beyond Sports
From the Summer, 2020, edition of SWEEP Magazine
It's all about the smiles for Steve Rosts.
Amid the many hours of practice, conditioning, schoolwork and other demands on a UW Rower's time, Steve makes space in his life to be a Best Buddy to a young man named Yon. The friends met through an international nonprofit program that pairs volunteers like Steve with someone who has intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.
"What do I get from Best Buddies?" the 2020-21 senior muses. "I get a friendship. It makes Yon smile. It makes me smile. It's gratifying, giving back and feeling like you can use your own agency to be involved.
"Coach Michael Callahan calls Steve "the heart and soul of our program" — and just one conversation with the Ontario native proves why. Steve explains that student-athletes are so devoted to their sport, teammates and education, it can be difficult to view life through another lens.
"Best Buddies helps me build a stronger sense of community outside of rowing and the classroom," he says. "It gives me perspective. I can have all kinds of stuff going on, a long tough day of practice, then I hang out with Yon and he's so fun and loving and always happy to see me."
Steve and a few other UW Men's Rowing volunteers meet weekly as a group with Best Buddies. They play games, watch movies, go on scavenger hunts and just hang. Steve also takes Yon fishing and to athletic competitions. During the stay-at-home days of COVID-19, he FaceTimes regularly with Yon.
Recruited by Canada's pro hockey league as a teenager, Steve gave up his lifelong passion for his country's favorite sport to follow in the wake of his three older siblings, who all rowed for U.S. colleges.
"At a great institution like Washington and with the legacy of Husky Rowing, I could earn a great education while having a real chance to win a national championship," notes Steve, who serves as 2020-21 President of Student-Athlete engagement for the Washington Student-Athlete Advisory Council. "And the support we have from our community and donors is incredible. People really do care about us."
Steve is double-majoring in education and communications through a program called Education, Communities and Organizations. He says it "teaches you to develop perspectives, go into new environments and conduct yourself with integrity. It's the foundation you need if you want to inspire kids and teach."
The perfect future career for a guy who likes those smiles.