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James Wlodarczak Goes from Beginner to D1 Rower in a Year

James Wlodarczak Goes from Beginner to D1 Rower in a Year

James Wlodarczak Goes from Beginner to D1 Rower in a Year


James Wlodarczak ’23 on the lake.

Staff Writer

April 27, 2023

J.T. Popp '26

James Wlodarczak ’23 is a three year Senior and co-captain of Boys Varsity Rowing from New York, NY. He is committed to Heavyweight Rowing at Dartmouth College next year. Teammate Daniel Qu ’25 said, “James is a great captain, rower, and person. He is an excellent leader by example and always keeps the energy high from the start to the end of every practice.” 

How did you discover your passion for rowing? 

I discovered rowing through the school’s former rowing coach, Coach Victoria McGee, around this time last year. I had played basketball for most of my life, but when Coach McGee reached out to me about being on the team, I said, “Why not?” Experiencing the combination of hard work, team culture, and community, I fell in love with the sport. After the season ended, I started to row a lot more consistently over the summer and saw genuine improvements. 

What expectations do you have for this season? 

Going into this season under a new coach, my biggest hope for the team is to build a culture around personal success. Obviously, going fast on the water and winning races is a goal, but I would also like the rowers to think they got something out of the season, be it on or off the water. I would like Hotchkiss to be a competitive team at NEIRAs (New England Interscholastic Rowing Association). 

What do you love most about rowing? 

What originally drew me to rowing was the camaraderie within the team. The connections that I have made in the sport have been invaluable, so much so that I still keep in touch with many of the rowers from past years. Also, the dedication of the rowers is something that I really respect and appreciate. The concept of “getting what you give” is an idea that I try to incorporate into all aspects of my life. 

What advice do you have for younger or aspiring rowers? 

Just stay consistent. It is definitely frustrating at times when you are not in sync with the boat or you catch a crab, but it is during these moments that you ultimately learn the most. Being patient with yourself is also important, because you will definitely fail many times while rowing, and it is your attitude toward that failure that turns a good rower into a great one. And lastly, just have fun. Rowing is a very training-heavy sport that can become mentally taxing, but there is joy in that, and I think finding that joy can change your entire outlook. 

What are some of the highlights from your time on the rowing team? 

One big highlight from last year was our race at the Kent Invitational. Despite it being the worst conditions I have ever rowed in, the experience really brought the team much closer together. Additionally, the many beach volleyball games were always really fun; that’s a tradition I hope to keep up going forward. 

How has being a member of the team improved your rowing? 

Being able to row with guys like Navy rower Nani Veluchamy ’22 and Columbia rower David Vynhal ’22 has definitely improved my rowing because of their ability to explain the rowing mechanics in a concise and simple way. Additionally, being able to row with my teammates this year has helped me to realize my own errors on the rowing mechanics and focus on where I need to improve. 

What factored into your decision to commit to Dartmouth? 

The program was described to me as a very close and gritty group of guys who are passionate about rowing and continuing Dartmouth’s success in the sport, a mentality that I value.

J.T. Popp is a staff writer for The Record.

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Editor's Note: This article was recovered from The Record's online archive. There may be stylistic and visual errors that interrupt the reading experience, as well as missing photos. To read this article as it appeared in print, view our print archives.

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Editorials are written by members of The Record's Executive Board. They typically center on issues related to the school or student life on campus.

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