By Miles Surrey

With a strong core of 10 seniors not only leaving Columbia University but Columbia Lightweight Rowing after this year, it will be a hard group to replace. That being said, the impact the class of 2014 had on the lightweight rowing program cannot be overlooked and will not be forgotten.

Seniors Connor Dougherty and Curtis Kachline believe the dynamic of the team has changed since their first year, and there is more of an emphasis on team success rather than individual triumph.

“The greatest shift has been in the mentality of the team. The team has transitioned from a team that imagined success, to one that expects success. Our class was the first freshman class in recent memory to win and win consistently,” Dougherty said. “The difference in our team now is the value we place on cohesiveness, and I think a large part of that is due to the closeness our of class.”

“During our first year, there were many individuals with a clear drive and ambition to take a medaling spot at the IRA National Regatta, but there wasn’t really an obvious collective commitment towards success. The group was much more divided on erg scores and individual race speed, so it was difficult for the slower athletes to push the faster ones, and vice versa. Our team is now the largest it’s been in recent history and also the deepest. Not to mention, the team is extremely close outside of practice, and the tight friendships contribute to the competitive camaraderie, which is absolutely essential in a sport that require complete cohesiveness and trust in order to succeed,” Kachline said.

The memories of competitions, and especially ones that garnered medals are what John Hold and Steve Boyle will recall most from their time in the water.

“My favorite memory was when we raced against Cornell in the spring. They were ranked higher than us and were in front of us for most of the race. At the last 500 meters we caught up and passed them by a good margin,” Hold said.

“My most fond memory was standing on the medal dock with a silver medal around my neck with my Freshman 8 after our final race at Eastern Springs,” Boyle said. “It was a culmination of hard work and a collaborative team effort put together over an entire year of racing together as a class. It was an unbelievable experience.”

The hard work these seniors have endured, in both the mental and physical aspects of the sport, as well as the friendships that bound the team together are what Kachline and Chris Hatzis will take away from their experience at Columbia Rowing most of all. 

“Without a doubt, the most important thing that Columbia Rowing has given me is the friendships created with my fellow teammates. Most of my best friends that I have made here at Columbia are my fellow lightweight rowers. They are a weird, quirky group of people, but they are also some of the most hard-working, determined people I have ever met,” Hatzis said.

“I can always reach physical or mental levels that I thought I could never achieve,” Kachline said. “In rowing and in life, we like to create brick walls for ourselves. We like to set limits and think that some things are impossible. Rowing has taught me how to eliminate doubt.”

Although none of the departing seniors are pursuing any competitive rowing in the future, they all agree that the decision to jump into a class of 2014 alumni boat would be too exciting to miss.

“I will most likely try out some other things I’ve been neglecting since first picking up an oar eight years ago, but I’ll always be ready for an alumni boat with my fellow class of 2014 lightweights,” Hatzis said.

“I have sold out to the corporate world and will be working at J.P. Morgan in their Sales and Trading department in Structured Product Sales,” Boyle said. “Though I do not plan on returning to rowing seriously, any time any of these other seniors ask me to be in a boat with them again, you can be sure I’ll be there.”