Rowing on a National Stage

August 14, 2019—Eric Li ’21 of Calgary, Canada, took up rowing when he enrolled at NMH last fall. Now he’s hooked. Less than a year into his rowing career, he was racing in a national competition in Ohio.

Eric spent part of his summer on the Charles River in Boston with Community Rowing Inc., a competitive club and training camp. Over three weeks in June and July, Eric and his fellow rowers were on the water and the ergometers four hours a day, six days a week. 

It was “intense,” Eric said. “Training was hard but, at the same time, it was fun. It was also a great way to see Boston, which is a beautiful city.”

From Boston, the club traveled to Cincinnati to compete in the 2019 U.S. Rowing National Championships on Harsha Lake, where Eric competed in the U17 8+ Men’s Time Trial. Eric’s team placed fourth — “which felt really great,” he said. “We competed with other clubs from all over the country and there was even a team there from Sydney, Australia.”

Molly Lai, an NMH rowing coach, said Eric’s summer rowing experience can only help the team’s development. 

“Continuing to row through the summer is a great way to work on boat handling skills,” she said. “In our league, we do a lot of dual races and having more big race experience before NEIRA (New England Interscholastic Rowing Association) championships is great practice for how to stay calm and execute race plans effectively."

A basketball player since childhood, Eric said he was eager to try a new sport at NMH, and the structure of the academic day allowed him to concentrate on school work while also having time to row.

“It gave me the chance to step out of my comfort zone and try something different,” he said. “Without NMH, I never would have been able to do this.”

Back at home for the rest of the summer, Eric is already preparing for the fall rowing season; he’s hitting the gym almost every day for weight and cardio training. 

“I have a personal goal of helping NMH do really well this fall,” he said.

He’s learned that rowing requires a lot of mental discipline, but appreciates that it’s a sport anyone can pick up. 

“It’s such an amazing experience to work together with other people, and to be on a river and see the world go by,” he said.