Grayson Schultz’s interest in rowing left the dock with Washtenaw Rowing Center in eighth grade and he’s been crew-sing along ever since. His hard work and dedication to the sport helped him earn incredible success at Skyline High School and helped him land a spot in the boat at Cornell University.
With so much water to cover, it’s best to begin at the beginning.
“Washtenaw Rowing Center (WRC) is the club run by Kit Bennett, who is also the head coach of Skyline crew,” says Schultz. “I got into crew because a family friend had actually rowed for Skyline Crew and loved it so I decided to give it a try.”
During his freshman year, Schultz met Novice coach Jordan Shore, who was the stroke seat for Michigan’s Men’s Crew team. And everything changed.
“He was such an incredible inspiration and really solidified my interest in pursuing the sport,” Schultz says. “I was previously a competitive swimmer and had planned on joining the Skyline swim team. But after the fall crew season my freshman year at Skyline, I decided to switch gears and go with crew full time. I realized that I loved being on the water more than in the water. I found that I’m an athlete who really enjoys grinding out long hours and I realized that working with a group in a boat was more enjoyable than swimming alone in a pool.”
He also discovered just what a special program Skyline crew was – and is. And he not only wanted to be a part of it but also help it grow and succeed even more.
“The best thing about Skyline crew is that while it’s strict and time consuming it is still incredibly fun and enjoyable,” he says. “We spend the entire school year rowing and are expected to put in a good deal of effort over the summer as well. Often times I have found myself practicing six to seven times a week. The coaches do not tolerate missing practice, being late or any unmotivated behavior.”
The flip side of high expectations is great success and lifelong bonds and friendships.
“At the same time, they are great people and they show a lot of intent on making sure that we all know where we are with crew goals and what we want to do with the sport,” Schultz says. “The sense of camaraderie of the team feels incredibly strong. It ends up being a group of people who are close to each other and hyper dedicated to one thing.”
Schultz, 18, quickly made a big impact and was a key member for the Eagles in just his second season with the program. He won a Bronze Medal in the Men’s Lightweight 8 at Canadian Nationals his sophomore year.
“It was a great surprise because it was in a boat that we didn’t practice much,” he remembers. “Canadian Nationals is on the Royal Canadian Henley Rowing course in St. Catharine’s Ontario which is this great little town.”
Fast forward to his senior year where Schultz was the Division 1 State Champion in the Men’s Varsity Single in Grand Rapids and his Men’s Varsity Quad won gold at the Midwest Championships in Ohio. He also won a bronze medal in the Men’s Varsity Quad over Memorial Day weekend at SRAAs (Scholastic Rowing Association of America) which took place on the Schuykill River in Philadelphia.
“We came in third after two really great east coast schools with top notch crew teams,” he says. “This was an incredible experience and a great way to finish our season after not being able to race at all last spring and last fall.
“It’s been a pretty great spring season after so much worry that we wouldn’t be able to race at all.”
That success didn’t come easy. Schultz says he worked out six to seven times a week with the team on the water. He also has a personal trainer at Blue Lion who he works out with at least twice a week.
“Normally for on the water workouts, we either try to row at least 15,000 meters a day or we can do shorter, high intensity workouts to practice sprinting,” he says. “I try to take in as many calories as I can concentrating on proteins and healthy carbs. I burn a ton of calories as the work can be pretty demanding, so I try to eat as often as possible. I had a pretty rigorous academic schedule over the past two years and while balancing it all I made sure to get good sleep as well.”
Hard work and dedication seem to be in his DNA and it’s that trait that helped him decide where he wanted to go to college. He wanted a place that would challenge him academically – welcome to Cornell.
“One of the things I’ve learned about myself is that the busier I am, the more productive I tend to be,” says Grayson, the son of Karl F. Schultz, MD and Susan Schultz. “I tend to thrive best in a competitive culture and Cornell is a school where I feel that I would be able to achieve my best academically.”
He is “super excited” about being part of the Cornell Men’s Heavyweight Crew team.
“Cornell has been my number one choice for college since my sophomore year,” he says. “The crew team seems to have a big emphasis in helping their athletes improve. It seems that sometimes kids can get lost in D1 college athletics but Cornell Crew seems to make an emphasis on making sure that no one gets left behind.”
Right now, his focus in on preparation and getting ready for the next big challenge in his life.
“This summer I want to train as much as I can so that I can be as fast as possible going into Cornell Crew,” he says. “It can be a really big climb to start getting into racing boats for college so I know I have a lot of work to do to prepare. My goal is to train as much as I can to gain that speed. I’m planning on practicing with other college rowers all summer and participating in my local club’s high performance camp. I’m excited to get to Cornell.”
Main photo by Martine Voccia