Building on a strong foundation, the UC San Diego men’s crew team is pushing towards its best season ever under third-year Head Coach Mark Davis. Coming off a dominating victory in the varsity eight at the San Diego City Championships, UCSD is at the Newport Invitational this weekend where a strong performance could earn the Tritons a berth in the ECAC National Invitational Championships May 13-14 in Worcester, Mass. Senior oarsman Steven Oliver, one of the standouts in the varsity eight, took time between classes to discuss life as a student-athlete on the UCSD crew team.
Q- What has been this seasons’ highlight so far?
OLIVER- All of the races are highlights... competing at the Head of the Charles in the fall was an awesome experience.It’s in Boston, you race past Cambridge, you have Harvard and MIT right there.In terms of rowing, it has some of the greatest boathouses and some of the great teams row from there.
Q- What else do you enjoy about the Head of the Charles trip?
OLIVER- We are obviously there for the competition.At the same time, the race itself is 20 minutes long, you practice for a few hours so there is some down time.The atmosphere is more of a carnival atmosphere as there are hundreds of thousands of people.There is a public concert and you can stroll over to Harvard square.A lot of guys meet up with friends and family.
Q- How has Mark Davis helped to improve you?
OLIVER- He is a technical coach and very proficient.He does not necessarily emphasize sheer physicality, but adds more finesse to rowing.He has helped develop my technique and accommodate other teammates.He is very strong organizationally.He is great at setting out an integrated schedule over the year for development.I admire his work.
Q- Is there a particular aspect the team is working on right now?
OLIVER- We are following our plan.We train for nine months and train on your own during the off season.The goal is to get faster.We have been focusing on being technically more efficient and building stamina.
Q- What do you plan on doing when you graduate?
OLIVER- I am a management science and international studies double major.My immediate plan is that I have applied to a number of PhD programs in political science.I am deciding between UC San Diego and New YorkUniversity.I can see myself in academics, private industry or public service.
Q- What’s the story behind the new bear statue on the UCSD campus and the men’s crew team?
OLIVER- We did that first week of winter quarter.It was supposed to be a team building activity.There are rather strict guidelines to be followed when teams do these type of team bonding activities and we understand the guidelines and respect them.What we came up with, was an activity where the guys on the team could participate, but those who did not want to, didn’t have to.The idea was to put a UCSD Crew tank on the huge UCSD IT Square Bear with giant oars by it.
We layed the ground rules, nothing permanent, nothing defacing... It is a very public display.By putting the huge crew tank top up, this would give the newcomers something to be proud of and a chance to advertise the sport of UCSD crew.This was a challenge that involved teamwork and creativity.They did a great job of it, took pictures of it... this must have been done in the early hours of Thursday morning.After crew practice, we returned at to find that it had been unfortunately taken down.
We were a little distraught at this because most major universities, if they have a statue of their founder or mascot, it’s seen as acceptable, as long as you do not damage the statue.They can dress it up before a big game.
It was just a real downer.Taking it down seems like it goes against the saying how we want to form a student community and the university.We want to build things that we can rally around.So the crew team does it, and the system stops you from doing it.We understand the rules exist for a good purpose, but in the end we were very disappointed and that is the bear story.
Q- Toughest part of training?
OLIVER- As is for any sport, there is a physical and mental component to training.It is easy over the short term to work hard.When the season becomes month-to-month, is when it becomes more difficult... especially when you have only seven races a season.
Q- How did you get started in Crew?
OLIVER- I was actually going to school outside the U.S. and the school had a rowing program.I started rowing and rowed through high school.It had been a big part of my life and it was something I wanted to continue.It provided me with a solid group of people to hang out with and a good release for aggression.On top of that, it keeps me feeling healthy and active.