Upon returning to Williamstown, it was immediately clear that this year's Williams men's crew would be among the faster groups in recent memory; it was clear that over the summer every returning athlete had committed time to the pursuit of excellence. This dedicated attitude does not come as a surprise to interim head coach Colin Regan, who spent five years as the assistant coach to Peter Wells, now on sabbatical, through the spring of 2013: "I am excited to return to a program and a school with so many motivated and committed people. There's no shortage of professionals that strive for a very high level of excellence every day. The presence of those kinds of people not only inspires you to do a great job, but, especially in the case of our support staff, their excellence makes doing your job that much easier."
The team's commitment to excellence and professionalism reveals itself on both the ergometer and on the water – the team has determined its priorities and in that lies speed. Summer training set the tone of high-quality, meaningful training sessions and the conditions of the fall have raised the standard higher yet. The team looks forward to competing in the 51st Head of the Charles Regatta, the first and second varsity boats starting with bow numbers 7 and 19, respectively. The Head of the Charles is an exciting opportunity to compete against many teams that Williams men's crew will see throughout the fall and spring seasons. At the end of October, Williams Crew will make its way to Lake Carnegie in Princeton, New Jersey to compete in the Princeton 3-Mile Chase. At the Princeton Chase, Williams men's crew will race against some of the biggest names in rowing: Princeton University, Northeastern University, Boston University, and University of California at Berkeley.
To prepare for the Head of the Charles the first and second varsity crews traditionally run a practice run of the course on the river. Recent data from this practice run of the course suggests that the team is well on the path to excellence. "The year so far has been very positive," says coach Regan, "the guys turned up in great condition and have been very responsive to what I have asked of them." Coach Regan brings with him a new and valuable perspective and approach to the program, emphasizing what objective information we can glean from a collection of data points. This demands a certain degree of capable ambition; an ability to gather and interpret information that is available and determine the best course of action, while having an urgent patience to move forward guided by an attention to the importance of process.
As a result of this data-driven process, we are able to quickly identify and move towards correcting any discernible flaws in the team's rowing and operation – the philosophy accommodates precise evaluation of the current position and trajectory of the team. "For this year's team, some themes have been emerging both in terms of strengths and weaknesses," Regan comments, "certainly we want to do everything possible to leverage our strengths, which we are getting better at each day. Our weaknesses have presented clearly and represent opportunities to advance quite far. We just need to be consistent and relentless in our efforts to improve," the opportunities for which the team is eager to seek out and take on. Regan adds, "for one thing, these guys have showed a lot of toughness and resilience, traits that cannot be coached and are essential to long term success." This objective analysis locates the program and through knowledge of location, directs and harnesses ambition.
While the team may be smaller than it has been the past two years, it is by no means lacking in quality personnel. The character of the athletes themselves seems somehow to represent the quality of performance to which we strive. No true competitive year is complete without its challenges; it would be wrong, however to say that challenges detract from the momentum of a program. In fact, it seems all too fitting to say that the acceptance of challenges only adds to the momentum. However, the momentum would not have been built up without each graduating class's commitment to an ideal of stewardship of the program: "we know our opportunities now are because we are standing on the shoulders of a lot of guys before us and so we are working to be the next set of shoulders from which future guys can reach even higher... Certainly the current state of the team is a reflection of what Peter [Wells] has been fully committed to over the last 33 years and more recently the time and effort Joe [Gartland] put into the underclassmen over the last two years" affirms Regan. "Overall, I am looking forward to seeing how far we can go this year."