May 30, 2006
The Washington men's rowing team spent the last few weeks preparing for the IRA national championshps, June 1-3 in Cherry Hill, N.J.
Senior Colin Phillips (Coronado, Calif.) rows in the No. 4 seat of the Huskies' seventh-ranked varsity eight crew. Last year he was a member of UW's fourth-place varsity eight and in 2004 he rowed in the national champion varsity four.
Colin spent a few minutes with GoHuskies.com, talking about the season and describing his thoughts on the upcoming IRA Championships.
GoHuskies: Would you comment on the season so far?
Colin Phillips: "It's been a long process of development, really focusing on what we can do together as a boat. It has been difficult. We haven't really gotten off to the great start that we would have liked to, and now we are in the championship phase of the season. We need to recognize our strengths are really utilize them to the best of our abilities down the stretch and hopefully at the IRAs."
GoHuskies: Can you comment on the race against the Russians, that seemed like a really great race for you guys to stay that close to a world class crew.
CP: "The cool thing about racing them is that when we race other crews in the United States we have some sort of idea what they are going to do or we have raced them before. With the Russians there are no excuses, you have to row your own race plan. Believe it or not, it worked really well. It was really exciting and coming through 1000 (meters), we weren't really sure where to expect to be. But, to hear (coxswain) Micah (Perrin) yelling that we were moving on them and that he could see their faces and it didn't look like they were really enjoying themselves, that was all the more fuel for us to keep on rowing hard. It was also incredible to hear the crowd. It was so loud that it felt as if the city of Seattle was in the boat with us racing the Russians. All of us felt it."
GoHuskies: "Was it difficult then to get up for another big weekend right after that for the Pac-10s?
CP: "The way that we train, we are always doing one or two more pieces than we think that we can, so it is difficult. Our practices are often harder than races. It was a really emotional race at the Windermere Cup, but at the same time I think that it was a positive experience rather than something we would look at and say, if only we had not raced at Windermere Cup things would have been different. That was not the case."
GoHuskies: "This year was different for Pac-10 rowing that has traditionally been dominated by Washington and California. This year Stanford is ranked No. 3. What are your thoughts on West Coast rowing this season?
CP:"Its great. Stanford has really stepped up and I am happy that they are doing really well. I would say the same thing about Oregon State and every other crew that we have raced here on the West Coast. Whoever they are, it doesn't really change how we prepare. It is exciting because I think there is always talk about having the national championships on the West Coast rather than the East Coast. I will go wherever they tell me to go, it doesn't really matter to me. I think that it does add legitimacy and it does show that it is not matter of where you are in location it is just a matter of working hard and going out there and doing it."
GoHuskies: Speaking of location, you now have some real good history with racing at the IRA championships. Does a knowledge of the setup and the format give you any advantage?
CP: "Experience is definitely an issue, but at the same time every race is a new one. It is exciting to row at the IRAs because I like to look down the course and see the Hilton like it is reflecting in the morning sun. It is a romantic place to go and for us it is a change of scenery. When we go there it is a special place and it is one where we really need to be at the top of our game."
GoHuskies: Coach Ernst states that his goal every year is to have the best race in that last race of the season. Is that something that you guys think you are track for?
CP: "Absolutely. Every race along the way is important but you remember the IRAs and it is a lot of fun. We really do try to build all of our momentum towards having the best possible race on that final day."
GoHuskies: We talked about Cal, Stanford, and Oregon State and you know what they have to offer but you haven't raced all of the teams from back East other than Michigan, Penn, and Northeastern. How do you prepare to row against crews that you aren't familiar with?
CP: "I would say just like against the Russians, we just have to commit to our race plan. It can actually be liberating. Instead of saying that we know what they are going to do here and there we can instead focus on what we are going to do here and there. I think that when it comes down to it, especially the way that we train, it is not like we are racing other boats all of the time. It is always that we are racing ourselves and seeing how fast we can go. The same thing holds true when we are racing an unknown team, it is matter of what we can bring to the table and what we can do as a boat as individuals committing."
GoHuskies: As you look back on your career, has the time gone by quickly?
CP: "Absolutely, it has gone by really quickly. It has been such a privilege to have the opportunity to row here. I am really going to miss waking up in the morning believe it or not. I am going to miss the comradery. I am going to miss being around Coach Ernst and Colin (Sykes) and Michael Callahan and the rest of the coaching staff. I am so thankful that my parents have been able to support me, and allowed me to row. My girlfriend Sarah is very understanding of me waking up and having to go to bed early. It has been such a great experience and it has not just been one person, it is a full effort. I am very grateful that I have had the opportunity and the privilege to do this."
GoHuskies: What stands out as the highlight of your rowing career at Washington?
CP: "There have been so many. Freshman year was really exciting just to meet a whole new group of guys and try to make the best boat possible. Sophomore year was really special because the four that I was in went undefeated and that was fantastic. Junior year was great because Kiel Petersen, Steven Hertzfeld and I moved up together into the varsity. One moment that sticks out would be the Windermere Cup this year against Russia. But everything else has been so special, the highs and the lows all come together as one package deal."
GoHuskies: What is your major?
CP: "I am a double major in biochemistry and neurobiology."
GoHuskies: What are you immediate plans after graduation?
CP: "I will graduate this June with both degrees. I have actually been working on finishing up my honors thesis in a lab in the health sciences department. The project that we are working on has actually been really fruitful, and we have gotten a lot of results. When there are results, there are more questions to ask, so I am going to stick around through the summer and even through the fall working on this mouse model and studying the feeding behavior. So eventually, this has all sparked my interest in graduate school. I am thinking of applying to graduate school like Evan Gallaway did, and just falling in and doing basic science research."
GoHuskies: "What do you see yourself doing five or 10 years from now."
CP: "Really enjoying whatever it is, I don't know. I am definitely not a business guy. I am not a politician or anything like that, but I can definitely see myself working with science on a bench somewhere studying some unknown question that is really interesting."
GoHuskies: Were you good with time management before entering college or did you gain that skill through attending school and also rowing."
CP: "It is definitely a lifelong project. There have been plenty of times where I have thought, `my god what am I doing why am I doing all of this stuff' and trying to finish both degrees in two years was a real challenge. The secret is just working hard at it and taking it one step at a time. Having people like I mentioned, Sarah and my folks, everyone that support you is important. And it is just hard work and taking it one step at a time."