Senior Spotlight: Robert DeWeerd

Robert James DeWeerd
Major: Criminal Justice
Hometown: Holland, Michigan

During my first few days at Grand Valley, I found myself wanting to join a group or club of some sort – preferably one that competed in some facet of athletics. I was originally dead-set on trying to join the Dodgeball Club. I was conversing with a friend who was on the rowing team, explaining that the Dodgeball Club were national champions the previous year, when my friend then told me that the rowing team had been as well. After asking about it, I initially thought that it sounded like a lot of work. That ended up being an understatement; however, I now find the work to be like a bad addiction.

Rowing at Grand Valley for me has been a reason for me to prolong my education. It seems that I keep finding a reason to continue my education long after I could have graduated. Luckily, I have had a support system of family and friends that keep from asking why. With a twenty fifth birthday looming only weeks away, I find myself finally in my fourth year on the rowing team, five years after I had started.

My years here on the team have been a bit non-traditional. Sure, we sometimes see an athlete take a year off to only regret it and return the next fall. I also found myself taking off a year, however for a different reason. Being in the Navy Reserves, I knew that the possibility of a deployment was real. In December 2011, I found myself on my way to a one-year deployment to Afghanistan. During my time away serving my country, the team travelled to the San Diego Crew Classic.

As a freshman I remember the team traveling to San Diego, and I knew it was a race that we only competed in every two to three years. Unfortunately, my opportunity to go came in 2012 at a rather inconvenient time. As I sat and watched the men’s race on a computer half way around the world, with an internet connection that was rather slow, I felt envious. I remember a huge sense of accomplishment after I saw the men cross the line in first place. Yes, accomplishment, because rowing is truly a team sport. When one boat performs and executes, it is not only because of the guys in that boat, but just as much about the guys who are not. As well as being envious, I also felt honored that the guys had decided to name their previously unnamed racing shell after me.

Many athletes find that winter training can be long and monotonous. Seniors talk of looking forward to taking some time off after their last, and fourth, year of rowing. I can truly say that after five years of focusing on becoming a better athlete for myself and my team mates, I think that when June comes, after the season is over, it will bring with it for me a sense of restlessness and confusion.

Throughout my career here, I have seen the men’s team truly excel and improve dramatically from year to year. My excitement for this coming spring season is almost unbearable. After I thought my only chance to compete at the San Diego crew classic had passed in 2012, Coach B announced at the end of last spring that we would be going again in 2014. At that point, I knew I would delay my graduation date once again in order to join my team mates in the race I watched some of them win two years ago.

Row2k Robbie Deweerd

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  • DeWeerd returns from Afghanistan to lead GV rowing

  • The Grand Valley State University Rowing Club challenges its student-athletes to reach the highest level to which they aspire both academically and athletically, while continuing to build and sustain a nationally competitive intercollegiate rowing program.

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