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The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

WJ Crew reacts to “The Boys in the Boat”

Courtesy Cassandra Carr
The girl’s WJ Crew team celebrates after racing in one of the biggest regattas, The Head of the Charles. WJ Crew enjoyed the film, “The Boys in the Boat,” believing it was an inspirational film that realistically captured the sport of rowing.

“The Boys in the Boat” was released over the holiday break and has been one of the top grossing movies in the country. The movie is a crowd pleaser and showcases what an exciting sport crew is.

It is because of the popularity of “The Boys in the Boat” that English teacher Janelle Ryan “believe[s] that this is the season, this is the year when the general public is going to be exposed to the world of rowing.” Ryan’s daughter is committed to rowing at the Division I school University of Delaware.

Based on the non-fiction best-selling book, the film follows the story of Joe Rantz, a poor man struggling to make ends meet during the Great Depression. But, he makes the University of Washington’s Crew team and with his team, they qualify for the 1936 Olympics and eventually win gold over Nazi Germany. The film features beautiful cinematography and leaves viewers with an appreciation for the sport of rowing.

The WJ Crew team enjoyed the movie, believing it was an inspirational film that realistically depicted the heart and soul that goes into crew.

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“I think it captured the underdog narrative extremely well, and the rowing parts of the movie were very well adapted from the book, which I have read and am a big fan of,” senior crew member Kevin Chace said.

The races depicted in the movie are not only realistic according to members of WJ Crew but will have you on the edge of your seat, especially the race scene in the Olympics when the USA boat gets a late start.

“The races in the movie are pretty similar to the ones that happen today. The crowds are loud, the heats are always competitive, and boats do get horrible starts in important races. That isn’t just Hollywood being dramatic,” Chace said.
The Boys in the Boat is one of Ryan’s favorite books. Ryan hasn’t seen the movie yet but believes that it will help people understand the technicalities that go into the sport.

“The book gave me such a respect for rowers … Rowing is such a unique sport. It’s not a sport where the strongest person does better. When you put eight rowers and a coxswain in a boat, the idea is they all have to be as strong as possible, but also that you have to be completely in sync,” Ryan said.

One aspect of rowing that perhaps isn’t apparent to the public is the role of the coxswain. The coxswain plays a vital role on the boat in maintaining synchronization by calling out the pace and motivating their teammates throughout the race.

“I appreciated how much importance the movie placed on the coxswain. As a coxswain myself, I know firsthand how troublesome this position can be. When one devotes so much time to what can basically be described as ‘yelling at people in a boat,’ it can be easy to become disillusioned with the sport,” junior crew member Marianne Carr said. “I think that ‘The Boys in the Boat’ did a phenomenal job showing how coxswains do make a difference and how a strong and genuine connection between coxswain and rowers is integral to fast and cohesive boats.”

Freshman crew member Adriana Garcia agreed that a good coxswain is significant to a successful boat.

“My favorite part was when the varsity coxswain joined the novices to help them practice. It really shows how the right people can help encourage the team to improve,” Garcia said.

Another notable part of the movie is when the coxswain, Bobby Moch, got Don Hume, the shy stroke seat, to play the piano in front of a large gathering of people in order to help him impress a girl. Chace believed this showed how well the rowers bond on and off the boat.

“The way people know each other so well just because they share a boat together is something a lot of people may find hard to understand,” Chace said. “WJ crew means almost everything to me … it is basically like a second family to me … and I spend three to six hours a day committed to the team … It’s the perfect outlet for me, and a great way to build lasting friendships.”

The team chemistry is critical to a boat’s performance, an aspect that is evident in “The Boys in the Boat.”
“I know for a fact, based on my daughter’s reporting that your connection with the people in the boat definitely plays a role. If there’s a rift in the boat, it’s going to show up in the row. So you really have to stay in sync with the people off the boat too,” Ryan said.

“The Boys in the Boat” is an encouraging and uplifting story that truly captures the art of resilience and perseverance, something that the WJ Crew members all admire.

“The 1936 USA Crew team inspires me because they worked so hard … they came together to become as fast as they could, and constantly practiced, which inspires me to work my hardest on the water so that our boat can be better and faster,” freshmen Matilda Carr, Marianne’s younger sister, said.

As the 2024 Olympics approach this summer, we should all tune into the USA’s boys and girls in the boat. After all, there is so much more than just physical strength that goes into the sport.

“It gives me so much pride to pass down our culture and traditions to younger rowers, it gives the sense that you’re involved in something greater than you, and I think that can do a lot to help a person grow,” Marianne Carr said.

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Rachael Wolfson
Rachael Wolfson, Print Editor-in-Chief
Rachael Wolfson is currently a senior and this is her third year on The Pitch. During her first two years, Rachael was a Print Opinion Editor and now she is a Print Editor-in-Chief. In addition to The Pitch, Rachael runs on the cross country and track team. She's also the Co-Founder and Co-President of The WJ Gilmore Girls Club. Her two older brothers (Thomas '20 and Alexander '22) also served as Print Editors-in-Chief when they were Wildcats/Madcows (take your pick). Rachael is looking forward to ending the Wolfson Dynasty (2017-2024) on a high note!! 
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