Providence, R.I. - Senior Nick Ritter has been a member of the Brown varsity eight for much of his career, and has helped the Bears remain competitive at the national level. Last season, Ritter was in the boat for a number of tremendous races, including winning gold at Eastern Sprints. Brown, and Ritter, also took third at the IRA National Championships, and won the prestigious Ladies Plate Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta. Recently, Ritter took the time to answer several questions about his time at Brown.
1. What was your athletic background in high school? How did you
get started with crew?
A: I had been playing soccer my whole life, but once I started growing I became slow and uncoordinated. So high school freshmen year I tried out for the freshmen basketball team. I wasn't very good, but I was tall, so I made the team. My sophomore year, Jada Leo, the Rocket City rowing coach approached me in a grocery store and asked me to try rowing. I had never heard of the sport, and in Alabama basketball and football was all that anyone cared about. My basketball coach had been always telling me to get bigger and stronger, so I figured that rowing would be a good recreational activity to try when out of season. I would have never thought I would have a passion for rowing, but by senior year I knew it was the sport for me.
2. What lessons have you taken away from the coaching staff, your teammates, and the sport itself?
A: The coaching staff has taught me how to compete at a high
level while maintaining good sportsmanship. I love Paul
Cooke's quote, "You show the other team respect by beating them by
as much as possible." I am thankful for my coaches guidance
and support, but i feel that I've learned the most from my
teammates. Every single guy at the boathouse shows up to work
hard for something that seems very distant. Racing may start
late March, but the toughest training begins in the fall and
continues through the dead of winter. Every day is a race at
the Brown boathouse. My teammates have taught me by example
how to train and race hard and have fun at the same time. I
look up to every single one of them. I believe the sport of
rowing itself is like any other sport in that it has taught me how
to work passionately towards a greater goal and an insight that the
team's success precedes my personal needs.
3. What is your favorite Brown rowing memory, and why is it significant to you?
A: My favorite Brown rowing memory would unquestionably be the 2009 Eastern Sprints Championships. It is significant because it was an absolute culmination of what the team has worked for all year. I distinctly remember freshman year, when we received wrist bands that read "Eastern Sprints - 41 points." This constantly reminded us during our training that 41 points was the maximum points we could receive at Eastern Sprints if everyone had won. The varsity 4+ set the tone for the day by dominating the competition and taking first place. The 2nd freshmen 8+ had a tremendous race, celebrated like champs on the dock and got the team fired up. Probably the closest race of the day, the 1st freshmen 8+ moved through Harvard in the last seconds of racing to win by tenths of a second. I remember riding on the bus with the guys cheering when we heard about the win. Then, I loved warming up and watching the 2V 8+ come through the final 500 meters. We rattled our oars, screaming and remembering how those guys were our best friends and toughest competition all year long. They were extremely fast, and won by more than open water. Finally, I will never forget racing down the course with some of the most competitive athletes I've met to take down Harvard and Wisconsin in the final stretch.
4. What other activities are you involved with here at Brown? How do they fit in with crew?
A: I am currently working in lab with Professor Patterson on a wireless network. He is designing a neural sensing system that will allow a paralyzed subject to control computer functions through thought processes. He wants the subject to be able to move around freely, so I'm helping him with getting it to be wireless. I am also working with another rower and former rowers in a business start up group called DiaVibe. It is a prospective company that has applied to numerous business competitions and a summer start-up program in Providence. I am also a member of the Brown IEEE which helps find jobs and provides info sessions for engineers.
5. What advice would you offer to incoming freshmen?
A: Row. We always take walk-ons. Otherwise, try taking a variety of classes in the beginning to find an interesting subject. Don't pull an all-nighter, unless you're planning on having Loui's at 5 am then going to sleep. Work with people on every homework or lab. You'll learn much more and much quicker from each other. Just try not to rush through college and have a great time. I think it’s been the best years of my life, and I will definitely miss it.