Joshua Weiner admits that he asked his sister to hold his hand when he first decided to join the Pioneer men’s crew team when he was a young ninth-grader. “Yeah, my sister Abigail Weiner joined the team with me my freshman year mostly because I was afraid of doing anything alone.”
Well, Weiner isn’t afraid of doing anything alone anymore and being a member of the crew team certainly helped provide him with not only the work ethic but the confidence to row to great success – in and out of the boat.
“My first season on the Pioneer Crew team changed my perception of hard work and genuine dedication,” said Weiner, one of Pioneer’s team captains this season. “One of the earliest challenges for me was to find what my coaches called a ‘seventh gear.’ Since my first practice, I was forced to override the physical and mental fatigue that builds once the race begins. It was a tool I was never able to use in cross country, track and the rowing teams I was a part of as a middle schooler.
“The notion that ‘we’re all in the same boat’ is both a reality and a reason for every rower to find their seventh gear. Unlike the other sports I’ve played in the past, there is a stronger sense of responsibility to work for every teammate as the success of the boat, and the entire team, depends on the collaboration and focus of every individual.”
As one of the team captains, Weiner worked with the other captains to help keep the ship afloat. “We motivate the team, make hotel rooms for travel regattas, coordinate ways to assemble boats for transportation and storage, run the team Instagram page, organize extra workouts outside of practice, and collect money for team gifts,” he said.
Weiner says rowing is the epitome of team sports where “every medal and success is achieved through the teamwork of everyone in the boat.”
Weiner medaled in more than three dozen races during his brilliant career at Pioneer. The long list includes:
1st place in the Midwest freshman year in the Men’s Novice 4
2nd place in the Midwest freshman year in the Men’s Novice 8
3rd place in the state freshman year in the Men’s Novice 4
5th place at Canadian Nationals freshman year in the Men’s Junior 8
3rd place in the Midwest sophomore year in the Men’s 2nd Varsity 4
2nd place in the state sophomore year in the Men’s 1st Varsity 8
6th place in the Midwest junior year in the Men’s Junior 8
3rd place in the state junior year in the Men’s 1st Varsity 8
6th place at Canadian Nationals junior year in the Men’s 1st Varsity 4
The team won The Leelanau Chase regatta junior year
The team won the Frogtown Regatta senior year
Men’s team won the Head of the North regatta senior year
The team won Combined State Championships sophomore and junior year
But Weiner is going to miss more than the trophies and accomplishments.
“I think I’ll miss the teamwork and friendships formed from the Pioneer Crew team,” he says. “When you’re close with everyone in the boat, it makes your time on the water 10 times more fun. We each push through the hardest practices together and row to ensure the success of the boat.
“These friendships have extended outside of the realm of crew as we play ultimate Frisbee, basketball and eat lots of pizza.”
And all of that came to an end too quickly and very unexpected.
“The cancelation of the team’s spring season has been hard for everyone, the seniors especially,” he says. “Since my freshman year, I’ve noticed a remarkable increase in both the size of our team and our speed. All indications pointed to this spring season becoming our most successful season in my memory.
“As a result, the news of its cancelation brought disappointment as I’ve been anticipating our competitiveness at state and Midwest championships for years. The whole team has tried to keep their spirits alive through group chats, recording their at-home workouts, and hosting zoom sessions. It has been a tough end to my senior year, but I know the team will be able to return stronger than ever when it is decided safe to do so.”
Weiner says he has been both “scared and inspired” by what is going on in the world.
“The impact of COVID-19 on my friends and family and the economic, political, and educational institutions has been extremely troubling; however, I find solace in the unity displayed by communities around the world,” he says. “I miss school so much, but the school district has done a great job providing resources to continue our curriculum at home. Though I still have ‘school,’ I still have a lot of free time. I’ve been biking the B2B trails in Ann Arbor because they follow the river I used to row on every day. I’ve also been doing outdoor work and taking care of my grandma who is currently staying with us. There are just enough things to do at my house in order to keep me sane.”
He’s always felt “sane” on the water. He fell in love with being in and on the water at a very young age.
“When I was younger, I was on my neighborhood swim team and spent my summers fishing with my grandpa,” he says. “In middle school, one of my friends suggested I look into a summer rowing program at Washtenaw Rowing Club.
“At first, I enjoyed the sport simply because it provided a place for me to socialize and be in nature, but I soon grew to love rowing for the physical challenge and dedicated teammates. I’ve made some of my closest friends and greatest memories with the Pioneer men’s crew team.”
Joshua, the son of Wendy Weiner and Russell Weiner, was busy during his four years at Pioneer. He had a 3.94 GPA and was a member of the National Honor Society, Interact Club, International Affairs Club and Pioneer Symphony Band.
The hard work and dedication has paid off. He will be attending Cornell University – and he won’t need his sister to hold his hand.
“I will be majoring in government at their College of Arts & Sciences,” he said. “Unfortunately, I will not be on the rowing team as I want to focus on school, but I’ll probably join a few running clubs to stay in shape.”
Senior photos by Abby Rose Photography