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Senior Jeffrey Thiers: With Your Support, ‘Nothing Stands In The Way’

Apr 22, 2021

A stone's throw away from the former home of boat-building icon George Pocock, a rower with generations of ties to the UW set about building his own wooden racing single.
 
Senior engineering major and lifelong Laurelhurst resident Jeffrey Thiers spent four years on the project, which began when he was a high school senior and was volunteering at the Center for Wooden Boats on Lake Union. This past summer, aided by his roommate Carter Heikkila, he finally christened the boat the David Anderson, named for Jeffrey's grandfather who also rowed for Washington.
 
"It's a combination of two passions — rowing and building things," notes Jeffrey, whose parents and grandparents went to the UW. His younger brother Michael also rows for Washington. "I read Boys in the Boat and was familiar with the history of boat building here in Seattle and at the UW. I wanted to replicate that. I drew up some plans and went at it."
 
He built the skeleton the summer before his freshman college year — "just a bunch of sticks on a mold." The project "gathered spider webs" for over a year before he finished the hull and inside compartment. Another year went by before Jeffrey and Carter added canvas, fiberglass and all the finishing touches.
 
Lessons he learned from rowing helped to "push us through moments of low inspiration."
 
"Talent is five percent of what makes a good rower. You can be extremely talented, but you won't get anywhere if you don't work hard and persevere. I feel that applies everywhere. You can have brilliant ideas, but you have to follow through," explains Jeffrey, who Coach Michael Callahan calls "a leader whose humility and resolve fueled his growth in rowing, academics and commitment to community."
 
The David Anderson's first race was in an unofficial regatta last fall. Although Jeffrey says there's lots he'd do differently in hindsight, he loved being on the water in something he built himself.
 
"This community is the greatest place to be a rowing athlete," he says. "The coaches are amazing. The equipment is amazing. The donors are amazing. They make it extremely easy to excel, removing all the hardships to leave you with a path forward. With their support, nothing stands in the way."
 

(This story was excerpted from SWEEP Magazine. Read the entire Spring, 2021, issue at the link at the top-right of this page).