Senior Thomas Fuller is a gifted and nationally recognized coxswain. Last year, Fuller led his crew team to a national championship against tough competition and has since trained with the top coxswains in the country.
A coxswain, arguably the most misunderstood athletic position, is crucial to a boat in crew. Using carefully chosen and rapidly delivered words and vocal variation, he or she executes the race plan, steers the boat, and ensures that the rowers are rowing their hardest. A skilled coxswain is often hard to come by.
Last spring, Fuller coxed the NorCal Crew lightweight (150 pounds and under) men’s varsity eight, a boat with eight rowers and one coxswain. This particular eight was named “the Sleipnir” after Norse god Odin’s mythical eight-legged horse.
The Sleipnir was one of several NorCal men’s varsity boats put forth to compete at regionals. The team went on to win first place at regionals, and then continued to compete and win at national championships in Sarasota, Florida. This victory qualifies them as the fastest youth men’s eight in the U.S.
NorCal crew practices at the Bair Island Aquatic Center in Redwood City. Leading up to nationals, Fuller reflected on his boat’s dedicated practice schedule. The rowers had six practices per week with the addition of 3-4 weight lifting practices. At nationals, this seemingly extreme time commitment proved to pay off as the bow of the eight crossed the finish line just seconds before the second place team.
The entire race can be viewed from Fuller’s perspective with audio of what he is saying in the video attached below. If you are unclear on what a coxswain does, this is the video to watch.
Following national championships, Fuller gained recognition for his exceptional coxswain skills. He was invited to the junior national team camp where he trained with the top seven coxswains around his age in the country. Fuller was one of the younger coxswains there and while he did not make the junior world boat, he is looking to potentially make one this year if re-invited. However, he did make the top club nationals boat, “which is exciting” said Fuller.
However, despite the concrete rewards Fuller has enjoyed, he still values the intangible ones the most. “I would say the biggest thing is being able to be so close with all my teammates. Winning medals is great and all, but when it comes down to it, the best thing is having so many close friends and being able to be a part of that community, being able to have the trust of every single one of them…to be able to lead them. That’s why I like doing it so much.”