2010-08-05 / Sports

Former Lancer now national champion rower at Washington

By Eliav Appelbaum eliav@theacorn.com

TEMPLE CUP TROPHY—Ryan Schroeder is on the crew team at the University of Washington. His team won the Temple Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta in England, the first time in the school’s history that a freshman squad won at the event. TEMPLE CUP TROPHY—Ryan Schroeder is on the crew team at the University of Washington. His team won the Temple Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta in England, the first time in the school’s history that a freshman squad won at the event. Ryan Schroeder picked up an oar for the first time in his life last September.

The 2009 Thousand Oaks High graduate is now a college champion rower for the University of Washington.

In fact, he’s never lost a race.

“It’s been unreal,” Schroeder said.

The 19-year-old played baseball for 15 years, including two as a varsity catcher with the Lancers. He also suited up for the TOHS football team for two seasons.

Rowing wasn’t even in the back of Schroeder’s mind when he applied for Washington’s aerospace engineering program.

During freshman orientation a fellow student told him that the crew team offered open tryouts. The 6-foot-5, 205-pound athlete, who didn’t want to play college baseball, decided to give it a try.

ONE OF A TEAM– Ryan Schroeder, 19, fourth from the right, rows during the Henley Royal Regatta on the Thames River in late June. The former Lancer is making a name for himself in rowing at the University of Washington in Seattle. “It’s a lot harder than it looks,” says the 2009 TOHS grad. Photo provided by www.row2k.comPhoto provided by www.row2k.comONE OF A TEAM– Ryan Schroeder, 19, fourth from the right, rows during the Henley Royal Regatta on the Thames River in late June. The former Lancer is making a name for himself in rowing at the University of Washington in Seattle. “It’s a lot harder than it looks,” says the 2009 TOHS grad. Photo provided by www.row2k.comPhoto provided by www.row2k.com “At my first practice I thought I was going to die, it was so hard,” Schroeder said. “I stuck with it. I told myself, just don’t quit. If the coach cuts me, fine. Just don’t quit.”

He started all season in the sixth seat on the eight-man freshman boat for Washington. Freshmen can’t compete on varsity.

Rowing has opened doors for Schroeder.

He’s competed at the Henley Royal Regatta on the River Thames in England. He won the Intercollegiate Rowing Association championship in Camden, N.J., enjoyed a PAC-10 Conference championship and defeated longtime rival California Golden Bears in a dual.

At practice, the sophomore-tobe rows next to the Seattle Space Needle.

“Rowing’s taken me places I never imagined going,” he said. “And it’s a lot harder than it looks. When you’re in the boat, it’s pretty crazy. I love winning and the racing mentality.”

Teammates appreciate having Schroeder make an immediate impact.

“He came in with a great attitude,” said fellow Husky rower Max Mannisto, who hails from Belmont, Calif.

“He came in not really thinking he’d be very good at rowing. His attitude changed after Christmas. He really hunkered down and started going for it. . . . He has a great attitude and he’s a hard worker—and it shows.”

Coxswain Seamus Labrum said Schroeder is an “integral” teammate.

“He’s very laid back in the boat,” said Labrum, who’s from the town Cape May Court House, N.J. “He has a cool head about him. He’s not much of a fiery guy. It’s good to have him in the boat. He calms the guys down.”

When Schroeder and the Huskies won the Temple Cup trophy at Henley on July 4, it marked the first time in school history that a freshman squad won at the regatta, which began in 1839.

Washington clinched the Temple Cup against Holland’s Amsterdamsche Studenten Roeivereniging by 4½ lengths. Schroeder earned a gold medal for his performance.

It takes incredible core strength, balance and power to row.

The high-tech, 60-foot carbon fiber boats—each one costs about $60,000, Schroeder said—are narrow and unstable.

Schroeder uses a 15-foot-long oar to thread the water.

The Husky described rowing as “pure pain.” He also said it was the hardest sport he’s ever played.

A typical day in Schroeder’s life goes like this: Wake up at 5 a.m. for early-morning practice; attend class from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; work on technique at Conibear Shellhouse, the university’s rowing facility; eat dinner with teammates at the shellhouse; finish homework; sleep, sometimes as early as 8 p.m. Schroeder survives double practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

He lost 10 pounds—then he gained 25 pounds. Because he works so hard, he has the appetite of Paul Bunyan at a Las Vegas buffet.

“At dinner, I’ll have three plates piled with food. And I’m getting seconds on dessert,” he said. “I’m not gonna lie: I eat five ice creams a day.”

Although Schroeder is a serious student-athlete, he’s still a Southern California kid at heart.

He loves to surf—he went to his favorite secret spot every day last week—and he skates on his longboard from the Washington campus to downtown Seattle, a 30-mile round trip, on off days.

The former walk-on has aspirations to compete in the Olympics. He already understands the secret.

“To win a race, you have to keep telling yourself, ‘You can do it,’” Schroeder said. “That’s the key to the sport.”

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