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Holden May is a TRC (Texas Rowing Center) athlete, a straight-A student at Acton Academy, and one of the best varsity rowers in the state of Texas. Over the past few years, he has fought his way to the top of the sport, and today, we share his journey.
Holden's first experience in rowing came in the form of a summer camp when he was eleven. During this camp, he cultivated an interest in the sport that would compel him to sign up for ARC's (Austin Rowing Club) novice crew the next year. It was there that Holden fell in love with the sport and spent countless hours working on his craft so that halfway through his eighth-grade year, he could make the move up to junior varsity.
Holden spent the next year being switched between junior varsity and varsity at ARC before being moved up to varsity nearly full time. Then at the end of his freshman year, Holden would be invited to the Olympic Development Program, this summer would prove to be transformational for Holden as he was able to learn from some of the best coaches in the nation and hone his craft in a highly competitive environment.
After his summer in the Olympic Development Program, Holden came back to ARC for his sophomore year of rowing. However, as Holden continued to progress both as a rower and a person, it became clear that ACR was no longer a good fit for his goals, so in December of 2019, Holden decided to transfer from ARC to TRC. There, Holden would find a new community of rowers who would continue to help him on his journey. However, just as Holden really began to establish himself as part of the TRC community, COVID began and put the entire sport on hold.
COVID hit the sport of rowing hard. Holden and his fellow TRC athletes were not able to train together in any substantial way for months as the best the club could do during the height of the pandemic was provide scaled-down optional practices with singles as the only boats available to rowers. However, the pandemic also gave Holden the opportunity to work on a lot of the aspects of rowing that were individual, and work he did. Holden put in countless hours of individual work to become the best rower he could be, and it paid off. This year Holden was not only offered a spot in the Olympic Development Program once again, but also made nationals for the first time in his athletic career.
Throughout the entirety of the interview, I could feel just how much Holden loved his sport and how much rowing has shaped him physically, mentally, and emotionally. Every weekday for a month straight, Holden has woken up at five in the morning to go to practice. He then comes to school where he is a straight-A student. After his hard work at school, Holden has a little bit of a break before he goes back to practice at five in the afternoon to hone his craft even more. Yet, Holden always has a smile on his face and he never complains. Holden found what he is passionate about and it is amazing to watch, he truly is the embodiment of what a student-athlete is supposed to be.
Keira Collins is a freshman at Acton Academy and a varsity rower at the Texas Rowing Center. This summer she was invited to row in the Olympic Development Program for the first time, and last Thursday I got a chance to pick her brain about how she got to where she is now, where she hopes to go from here, and what her advice is for aspiring rowers.
Keira's journey as a rower began at the end of her sixth-grade year when her dad signed her up for the recreational crew. It was there that she found her love for the sport and her love for the comradery that rowing provides. From there, Keira would join TRC as a novice before earning a spot on the varsity squad in her 8th-grade year, and then when everything was looking up for her, COVID hit and derailed the rowing season.
It was during this time when Keira really started to push herself to be the best athlete she could be. While most people sat on their hands waiting for practice and regattas to start again, Keira went to work, spending the free time COVID gave her to improve rapidly and immensely. She worked day after day to become the best version of herself as a rower, so when the season resumed, she could capitalize on the opportunity that COVID provided her. This work would pay off as she became not only one of the best rowers at her club, but one of the best rowers in the nation.
Keira hopes to learn a lot from the Olympic Development Program this year, in hopes to improve even further. She also believes she could win multiple medals in the competition at the end of the summer. Keria hopes that in the years to come she can continue to improve and be asked back to the program again. She also hopes that she will be able to row in college and perhaps, if all the chips fall in the correct place, one day row in the Olympics.
Before we ended the interview, Keira gave one last piece of advice to aspiring rowers all around the world. She said that, "If you truly do want to be great putting the work in now will pay off. You might not see the value in it now, but one day you will thank your previous self for doing what they could to help you reach your goal." A piece of advice that truly does embody Keira both as a rower and a person.