Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Woodrow Wilson's Eli Brown to compete in World Rowing Junior Championships
Three years ago, Eli Brown put down his alto saxophone and picked up an oar. The former middle school football player has also traded his pads and helmet for full-body spandex.
Brown started rowing at the end of his sophomore year of high school. Now, the 2012 Woodrow Wilson graduate will be the only Texan on the U.S. 19-and-under team that will compete at the World Rowing Junior Championships that start Tuesday in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
“Making the team is really exciting, and I feel like this is a big step for me,” the 18-year-old Brown said.
In June, the 6-2, 195-pound Brown trained for three weeks in Connecticut with the U.S. National Rowing Development team. Afterward, he was chosen as one of 23 rowers to train in Camden, N.J., to prepare for the World Cup. On July 14, he received confirmation that he was chosen as one of 20 rowers to travel to the World Rowing Junior Championships.
Though his family won’t be able to make it to Bulgaria, they’ll be streaming the event online.
“I’m ready to watch the competition and see how he does. I’m really curious about what’s going to happen over the next five years,” his father, Brett, said. “I’ve been looking at some pictures of him online while he’s been at the camps and in training, and I’m realizing, ‘Wow, that’s a man!’”
Brown has been training with the White Rock Boathouse team. His mother, Talitha Kiwiet, says he has come a long way since his first competition at White Rock.
“The first time he competed, it kind of turned into a scrimmage, because it was sort of disorganized,” she said. “The first three days, I picked him up from practice and he got in the car. I asked him what he thought about it. He just sat in the backseat and said, ‘I love it.’”
Brown is taking a year off before starting college so he can train. He’s looking at some of the top rowing programs in the Northeast — including Ivy League schools, among others.
Brown’s rigorous training, which includes 10,000 meters a day on his home rowing machine, is part of the reason his White Rock Boathouse coach, Randy Dam, thinks Brown has been so successful.
“There are very few guys like Eli that have his internal motivation,” Dam said. “Even though he’s smaller for rowing, he makes up for it with his power and endurance.”
Rowing isn’t exactly a popular sport in the Dallas area — or in Brown’s family. His father participated in cycling and canoeing, but no rowing. However, it’s something Brown has come to love.
“I think people are kind of impressed with me because I’m shorter. Taller people can drive through the water more efficiently,” Brown said. “I’ve found out that rowing is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical.”