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5 Questions with A.J. Brooks
Release: 05/28/2013
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May 28, 2013

Gohuskies.com: Your class took home the Class Day title for the second year. How does the friendly competition of an inter-squad event help prepare the team for the upcoming season?

Everyone loves winning Class Day because you gain the bragging rights around the boat house. However, it was more than that this year. So much emotion was built up this year. The day started off pretty hectic we all woke up and showed up at the boathouse and we knew each class would be gunning for gold, the strong sophomore class, the juniors gaining some big guns and the unknown speed of the Grunties. Compared to last year 6 of the 8 were rowing together pretty regularly being the basis of the V8. This year has panned out a little differently. We have been integrating a lot with the other classes, making our pre-race row feel a little "off" compared to usual. 

We all met for a pre-race talk and realized this was the last time we would be racing as the MEAN13, the last time we all took off down the cut together in this lineup. I got pretty overwhelmed with emotion and knew we had to get the job done there was no way any of us were going to not go out on top. I remember tapping it up to the starting line and looking down the boat, Brandon "Bullwinkle" A.J. "Rocky" Sam "Domminator" Max "Dos Equis" Mijo "VW Mijo" Ryan "The Heater" Alex "Jamlando" Dusan "Ben" and Seamus "Rat" remembering all the nicknames freshman coach Luke McGee gave us at The Henley Royal Regatta our Freshman year. As I heard the countdown 5..4...3...2..1.. I remember saying I love you guys, and we were off. You could feel the raw emotion ripping apart the water and bending the shell. That's the moment I knew we were not going to lose. So it was more than defending the title and the inter-squad duel, it was the last time I got to race with my best friends. This can be said for every class they might not feel it yet but this is the emotion needed to be a Husky. This inter-squad training of preparing yourself for the amount of emotion you will feel sitting at the line of the Championship race. It truly is unlike any other sport, the growth my class has developed over the years unlike any other. 

Gh.com: You've done some competing on the international circuit. How does that compare to rowing as a Husky?

When I competed in the 2011 U23 Championships in the 4+ it was comprised of all Husky oarsman, and Mike Callahan was our coach. So for me it was another day at work. We launched out of Conibear as we always do and got to work. The difference was we did not have the pressure of school looming over us as athletes. We were able to commit full focus to the work at hand, knowing we do not have a lot of time to row together as a boat before shipping off to Amsterdam. 

Gh.com: What pressure does being a defending IRA champion put on your individual training and training as a team?

The pressure will always be there to perform at the highest level on this team because of the depth you can have an off day and see yourself slipping in the ranks as the guy below you is chomping at the bit to take your seat. But that's the strength of team training, the guy next to you pushing you to your limits and see what your limit is. On the individual side of training as a team we have a lot of faith in coach and try to follow through with the workout to maximum capacity. Unlike a national team that would be able to train 2-4 times a day we have guys who are crushing huge majors up on campus and need to take very difficult classes. So the philosophy of doing the work to the highest standard is key. Back to the pressure of the IRA, it will be a sweet tale for myself as my first ever race 8 years ago as a novice rower for NAC who won his first state championship on Lake Natoma. It is funny how things work out and come full circle. So yes it brings a sense of pressure, but it's nothing we cannot overcome. 

Gh.com: As you are in the midst of your final season, have you thought about where you see yourself in a year after graduation?

I plan to stick around Seattle and pursue my career in art and fashion. Did I ever think this four years ago? No way. I was a spoiled brat from sunny southern California and had a hard time adjusting to the rain, thinking I'm going back to California after I graduate. It's interesting how things change. I've come to love this city and the people of this city. It's where all my friends are at. I will always be an athlete at heart, I'm not sure what my rowing career has in store for me but I know I will always be an active competitive person in all aspects of my life. I cannot tell you how the future will unfold for me seeing as I do not know the answer. All I know is that I have my gas on the pedal to finish this season the way started things 4 years ago. I want to know for myself that I did everything I could to get the best grades and most out of rowing. I'm eager and excited to see how the future unfolds.

Gh.com : What part of Husky rowing are you going to miss the most?

I'm going to miss making history. After seeing the 1000's of Husky Rowers come in and out of the shell house who live to tell their tales at banquets and luncheons. It made me think about my history as an oarsman. What mark on the program am I leaving? What tales will I tell? I think Callahan and the team has been writing a new page in the books in terms of Husky Rowing. I'm glad to be a part of chapter that will never be forgotten. 

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