Letter: Who are those guys?
We love to watch sports. We imagine ourselves dunking a basketball or hitting a home run while watching snippets on sports shows and highlight reels. And when we inevitably come up several feet short of the rim or watch a softball in the batting cage whiz by, we stand in greater awe of those that perform such feats. We take pride in “our” major league team winning the World Series and cheer for “our” team playing in the Super Bowl.
But WE, as Mathews citizens, now have another team that has risen to such great heights from OUR county. They will not make a Top 10 clip. They will not have a parade for their homecoming. They will quietly and tirelessly return to the waters of the East River, and continue their business of training their bodies, fine-tuning their skills, and pulling their sculls.
Three weeks ago, the Mathews Boys’ Senior 4 pulled off one of the most dazzling feats in their sport. They won their category for only the second time in MHS crew’s 30-year history. A week prior, they missed winning the state championships by 0.19 of a second and one week later, they fought back and beat teams from throughout the country to win the King’s Club Cup and smash the course record. This was not a team of superstars touting their prophecies of repeats and championship rings. This was a group of boys that simply decided to put in the work to achieve a goal.
Teams arrived in Philadelphia with 80+ athletes on their rosters competing for a shot at the same glory. Yet these four boys from our small town took down the Goliaths of the rowing world. They ran countless miles in the fall, froze their fingers in the winter, and wiped sweat off their brows in the spring. Winning the King’s Club Cup is a big deal.
Several Mathews crews have won gold medals at the Stotesbury Regatta, with my sister, Sarah, being on the first boat for our county to do so in 1996. In 2004, Mathews stormed the course in the Boys’ Senior 4 with a matched set of tall, lean rowers that handled their races with maturity and grace. I, myself, tried in vain for several years to win the prestigious regatta in this same event. Fourth place was still the best we could earn. All Mathews rowers dream of participating in the regatta, with winning seeming as distant as the slam dunk we saw others perform.
You will probably see one of these boys at the grocery store, at the gas station, or just out mowing the lawn. They will probably walk down the halls of the high school without much mention of their achievements. But when they stood on the podium at the finish line, trophy in hand, medals around their necks, people all asked, “Who are those guys?” We should take a moment and recognize that we can all proudly say, “That’s OUR team.”
Mathews Class of ’99
Mathews Crew ’95-‘99
P.S. The just-won silver by .003 of a second at the Canadian Nationals against an all-Canadian field takes these boys (and girl) from remarkable to simply amazing!