July 3, 2012
SEATTLE - Husky oarsman Sam Dommer returned to Conibear Shellhouse this season after taking a year off to focus on academics. The Folsom, Calif., native didn't miss a step; he capped off his second season with a gold medal and a course record at the IRA National Championships as a member of the Varsity 8+. Teammate and GoHuskies.com correspondent Rob Munn talked with Dommer to learn more about his experience this year.
GoHuskies: What was it like coming back to the team after taking a year off?
Dommer: It was challenging. I was fortunate enough to have a friend who was in the same position as I was so we worked out together. Coming back from a year off you learn how important the sport is to you. I really missed the team when I was gone so getting back with the guys was a huge motivation for me.
GoHuskies: Tell me about your experience this year winning an IRA gold medal in the varsity 8?
Dommer: It was surreal. When I came into the University of Washington, I was planning on making the (second freshmen boat) and struggling with the system. (Assistant coach) Luke McGee did a really good job in teaching us that anything was possible as long as you work hard. This whole team was pushing each other really well which lead to the 5 for 5 sweep. I would say I am more proud of the complete sweep than my own win.
GoHuskies: Have there been difficulties while trying to pursue a degree in engineering while also training as a rower?
Dommer: Not really, any major is obtainable you just have to put in the time. Rowing taught me that when everything [stinks], you just keep on getting on. I never once thought about quitting my major, it just wasn't an option.
GoHuskies: You definitely experienced a tough loss over the summer with the death of friend & teammate Peter Allen. What did he mean to you and how did he impact your life?
Dommer: It was hard experience. Peter and a couple of guys on the team went out to dinner to celebrate my birthday the day before he passed. The pure shock of having him around one day and not the other was the worst part. I still haven't really comprehended what happened. But when he was with us he was the hardest working/most humble person I have ever met, I try to live like he does.
GoHuskies: What are your plans over the summer?
Dommer: I am going to be working out with Sebastian Peter and I have an internship at Aerojet Corp. in Redmond. Just getting ready for an extremely competitive year.
GoHuskies: How will you benefit from this internship?
Dommer: Work experience. I have been rowing since sophomore year in high school so I haven't had much time to get a job. Also it is a test driving for my major. See if that type of engineering is what I want to go down.
GoHuskies: With the new year coming up congratulations on being elected commodore of the VBC. How will you embrace this role in the upcoming season?
(Ed. Note: The commodore of the Varsity Boat Club serves as a central figure on the team until the program elects captains in the spring. An example of duties is organizing team events, being a sounding board for freshmen, etc.)
Dommer: I will try do what Peter would have done. Take it extremely seriously; be humble, and lead by example. I know I wont do as good of a job as he would but like UW rowing, you have to set the bar high.
GoHuskies: This is your last year rowing with the class of 2013, what have they meant to you and your college experience?
Dommer: They are my immediate family within a bigger family. I know that they have my back no matter what and I got theirs. We did a lot of growing up together so it will be hard to not have them in my final year. I will be fine though, the 2014 class is full of great guys and I am looking forward to getting to know the class of 2015 better.