2017Oct 31

Starting From Scratch

By Jason Rankin


Screen Shot 2017-10-31 at 4.26.36 PMJust fourteen months ago, in September of 2016 I was approached by professor, Dr. Amanda Schweinbenz. She asked me to try out for the Laurentian rowing team. Twice I declined to join the team due to having my mind set on school and making new friends, although on the third try I was given a piece of paper with the Olympic qualifying times displayed on it. I was told if I could achieve those times, I could start training for the Olympics and with that my decision was made, and shortly after was in a boat.

My name is Charlie Alexander, and I am from southern Ontario, and live in a small town called Fergus. Growing up in Fergus was great, I would spend most of my free time at the mechanic shop down the street, working on my Jeep, or learning from my father and friends who also worked there. Never would I have pictured myself rowing competitively in those days. Becoming a police officer or joining the RCMP was my dream as a child, however my love for the outdoors drove me to chose a different path. Currently I am taking the Outdoor Adventure Leadership program at Laurentian.

It was in my first few weeks in the program when I met Amanda Schweinbenz, who has been the rowing coach here for about 9 years and has helped produce many successful rowers such as, Curtis Halladay and Carling Zeeman. With no rowing experience at all, I accepted her offer to join the team. Even though it seemed like a remote possibility, I decided to go for it, and committed with everything I had, even though I knew nothing. Amanda helped me through everything, and taught me from scratch all there is to know about rowing. She quickly became my trusted coach and mentor in the sport.Screen Shot 2017-10-31 at 4.36.07 PM

Balancing school and my busy training schedule isn’t easy. I sacrifice some much needed sleep, for our 5:30AM starts only then to come home to make breakfast, then once more head back for another row at 11AM and then once more around 4PM. All of this is completed while getting to class and finishing all of my homework and it is all worth it in my mind. The feeling I get when pushing through a long hard workout on a cold morning is something I’ve never felt before, and only something that I can describe to you as a “rowers high”. The sound of the water splashing at the back of the boat as it slightly lifts off the water with every stroke, and hearing the slight hum of the hollow bodied hull, when everything is just perfect, is somewhat blissful.

My main goal is to reach the Olympics, specifically I am striving towards the 2020 Summer Games held in Tokyo, but a more realistic goal is the following Summer Olympics is 2024 in Paris. In just my first year of eligibility for rowing I have competed in 5 events, most notably the Head of the Trent or HOTT, and the OUA finals. At the HOTT race, I placed 4th and at OUA’s I won the bronze medal. In October, I was named Ontario’s Strongest Male Athlete of 2017 presented by RBC, which is the most important achievement of my career so far. Screen Shot 2017-10-31 at 4.32.42 PM

Never would I have thought I would be rowing for a chance to compete for my country, but with just a year under my belt in the sport, I am pushing my limits and looking to join the Canadian National Rowing Team, as soon as I can. It’s only a matter of time and experience until I will be seasoned enough to join and contribute to our national team.

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