Oct. 7, 2008
BU All-Access Radio Interview with Bohrer
A two-time Olympic and three-time World Championship medalist in rowing, Thomas Bohrer enters his first year with Boston University's men's crew program after training rowers at the masters, collegiate, novice, youth and national team levels at the Union Boat Club since 2000. The 1989 US Rowing Athlete of the Year and 1992 Olympic Team Captain also served as the boys' varsity coach at Wayland-Weston High School, which won state championships each of the three years he coached there.
Q. What makes you passionate about rowing?
A: I started rowing in college. I felt that before rowing I had been searching for a sport that I really enjoyed. When I started to row, I became immediately hooked. I found myself very focused and regimented about training. I also found that because I loved the sport so much that I could see my commitment to rowing paying off. The better I got, the more motivated I became. Rowing put me on the right track in my life. I became a better student in school. I think I became a better person off the water as well. I also met my wife through rowing. I love coaching now because as in any sport you carry things over from your training and commitment to the sport to other things in your life. It is very rewarding to see athletes that you coach not only get better on the water but also off the water.
Q. What convinced you that coming to BU was the right decision?
A: I have always wanted to coach at the Division 1 level. I have coached in Boston for the last 10 years, and I live in the area with my wife and three children. Boston University is a great school with incredible facilities. There are not many opportunities that come up to coach at this level, and because I would not have to move my family I knew it was the right place for me. This is a job that I have dreamed about for many years.
Q. What made you decide to become a coach and how did you get your first start?
A: When I was at the end of my competitive career, I knew that I wanted to stay involved with rowing. I knew that I wanted to coach, but not until I was done with racing myself. It took me a few years to get involved with coaching, but my first experience was with coaching the boy's team at Middlesex School in Concord, Mass. Most of the kids that came out for the team had to do rowing because they got cut from other sports. It was a challenge to get them to like rowing at first because some really were only doing it because they had to play a sport. Trying to coach some kids that did not want to be there was a challenge, but a challenge that I knew that I was up for.
Q. What was the Olympic experience like?
A: It seems like a long time ago that I was at the Olympics. The experience was wonderful. The best part about it was coming home and sharing what it was like with friends and family. It was kind of like reliving the experience all over again. When you are at the Olympics you are surrounded by all these great athletes from different countries, and then you realize you are part of that group. It is a pretty awesome feeling.
Q. What's your favorite memory from both events?
A: Favorite memory of both events was the opening ceremonies. Walking into the stadium with all the teams from the USA was pretty overwhelming. Winning medals at both Olympics was unbelievable as well, especially in 1988 when we were a long shot at getting a medal. Best part after getting the medals was showing it to my parents and my wife-to-be afterwards. It was also a relief to be done with racing and have the pressure of performing over and just to enjoy watching other events.
Q. What are your first impressions on the DeWolfe Boathouse?
A: I have been in Boston now for 12 years so I watched the old boathouse be torn down and the new one being built. It was awesome looking from the outside, and then when I finally had the chance to visit, I thought it was even more impressive from the inside. There were no corners cut when the boathouse was constructed. It was well planned and the students that row out of it should feel very fortunate to have such a great facility to train out of. I know that I do.
Q. What makes the boathouse so special?
A: The boathouse is special because no. 1, it is so beautiful. The other is that it is right on campus. How could you ask for a better location for students at BU? Many universities have to drive to get to their boathouse to train.
Q. What are the strengths of this year's team?
A: The team has many strengths. I think that the team is very motivated to turn things around for the program. We also have many athletes that have raced at the international level. I would expect all of these athletes to be leaders on the team and for them to be encouraging to one another and show leadership that others can look up to and aspire to be and then even be better.
Q. What will it take for the team to achieve success this year?
A: I think that with some of the performances over the last year or so I need to build the confidence in the team that they can do well and compete at the Division I level. I know that the whole team is hungry to do well. I feel that if I can restore confidence in the guys and have them feel like they are making improvements each week then I will have met my expectations for the team.
Q. How does the team become confident in itself?
A: A team becomes confident when they feel the training is effective. Each week they feel like they are getting better. They are not afraid to push themselves. I tell the team to not to worry about winning, but to keep training hard and get better each week. If we do that, the end result will be rewarding.
Q. What kind of student-athletes will you be looking for in the future?
A: I am looking for student athletes that want to take BU rowing to a new level and want to train hard and create inner competition on the team. I am also looking for athletes that may be flying under the radar in the recruiting process. They might not have much rowing experience but are good athletes such as a cross country skier or swimmer. I want someone who likes to train and knows how to train through self-motivation. With that attribute in place, I can then teach them to become really strong rowers.
Q. What makes the Head of the Charles so special for the program and what are you most looking forward to with the event?
A: The Head of the Charles is the largest rowing regatta in the world. It is right here in Boston on the river that we train on every day. The start of the event is at the DeWolfe boathouse. This is our home field. I am looking forward to seeing how our crews match up with the best in the country. It is also a really fun race to be part of, and I like to see the excitement of the squad build as we get closer to race day.