Muscle and oar and what moves them: day after day after day in the early morning hours, with men’s crew coach Jay Farwell ’94, J.D. ’01
There’s a glory to crew’s predawn workouts—an assurance that the day has already been put to good use before many people roll out of bed. And certainly nothing makes breakfast in Benson taste better than two hours spent pulling an oar through Lexington Reservoir.
But even Jay Farwell ’94, J.D. ’01, head coach of SCU men’s crew, acknowledges the obvious downside to the arrangement, especially when he’s talking on a soggy Friday morning in February. “Let’s be honest: Nobody likes to get up at five,” he says, still looking windblown at his law office three hours after getting off the lake. “It’s miserable.”
Farwell, though, is Exhibit A that bleary-eyed wake-up calls six days a week are small deterrent if you love what you’re doing. Why else would he be in the second year of this third stint with the team, following six years as coach from 1997 to 2003 and his student days as a rower?
With a wife, three small kids, and a law practice, Farwell had plenty of reasons to pass when the job opened up two years ago, but even before the opportunity arose he’d been talking with his wife about what to do when it did. He loves the sport. And even more, he loves the type of people it attracts. Experience isn’t necessary—some of his rowers have barely heard of crew when they arrive on campus—but heart is.
For him, the physical and mental tests of rowing were an education in the fact that through hard work and effort, things he thought were out of reach were in fact obtainable. “As a rower you quickly learn that you can endure a tremendous amount of pain and continue to endure the intense experience of rowing while [pushing] yourself well beyond your perceived limits,” he says. Helping other student-athletes learn the same lesson is part of what attracts him to coaching.
“I am just looking for guys who want to compete and have that kind of desire and fire in the belly,” he says. “There is no public payout in this sport. They aren’t looking for the limelight, they’re looking for an opportunity to compete at the collegiate level.”