From Gazette.net, By: Jennifer Beekman:
|Former Winston Churchill High School three-sport athlete David Banks (center) returned to the school to talk with members of the school's crew team, including co-founders Julianna Hsing (left) and Alisa Dan.
Sharon Jaffe Dan/submitted
Former Winston Churchill High School three-sport athlete David Banks was not always the best rower.
It took the 2005 Stanford University graduate three tries before he first made the U.S. National Team in 2008. He then finished ninth in the four-man boat at the Olympics in Beijing that year.
Perseverance, he said, comes with hard work, and that was an important message he said he wanted to share with the year-old Churchill Crew club team last month.
Home in Potomac for the holidays from his base in California, Banks spoke about his experiences prior to a two-hour winter workout at the Jewish Community Center in Rockville and then led the team through some drills.
Churchill Crew co-founders seniors Julianna Hsing and Alisa Dan said his words hit close to home for the 50-plus members of the team, who are sometimes ridiculed by their peers for participating in the sport.
“I didn’t know about all the opportunities available in rowing,” Hsing said. “It was pretty fascinating to hear how [Banks] didn’t get it on his first try. It was inspiring to hear that if you put your mind to it, you can do anything, and that applies to every aspect of life.”
Churchill Crew was first formed in fall 2010. It is not affiliated with Churchill athletics and does not get any support from the school, but all of its members are students there.
Crew is not a Montgomery County Public Schools-sanctioned sport, but there are several self-supported high school teams, including Walter Johnson, Montgomery Blair, Bethesda-Chevy Chase and Walt Whitman.
Churchill Crew owns two boats, 32 oars and 10 ergometers, which cost about $900 each. All equipment is bought with money donated by athletes’ parents and fundraising efforts.
The team, which trains on the Anacostia River in Bladensburg, is in the process of purchasing a third boat.
Churchill Crew’s mission, according to its website, is to introduce its members to the sport of rowing. The main focus is on development.
The team trains year-round and races in the fall and spring.
In the Head of the Anacostia on Oct. 8, Churchill Crew rowers swept all juniors events they entered in the 2.5-mile race.
“Rowing is excellent exercise, it uses the whole body and is very aerobic,” said Cindy Cole, Churchill Crew coach and founder of the Washington Rowing School. “It requires power and balance and it is a lifelong sport, which is why I love teaching it to people.”
Banks only was introduced to the sport of rowing in college. He made the Stanford University men’s crew team as a freshman walk-on in 2001.
A basketball player and standout 800-meter runner for the Bulldogs track and field team, Banks’ lean but athletic 6-foot-2 frame was built for rowing.
In four years, Banks ascended the Stanford rankings. By the time he was a senior, he was one of the best in the country. In 2005, he was named to the All-Pac-10 Team.
In 2006, he earned his master’s degree in construction management at Stanford and said he ultimately would like to get involved in construction development to positively change communities.
But the chance to represent his country on an international level was a once-in- a-lifetime opportunity he could not pass up, Banks said.
He was pleased to learn of Churchill Crew; exposure to the sport is extremely important, he said. That was what prompted him to speak to the team.
“It’s great that they have a program, when I heard about it I wanted to come check it out,” Banks said. “It definitely would have been beneficial to me if I had been exposed to [rowing] earlier. The numbers out here are great.”
Banks said he hopes to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics as part of the eight-man boat. The last chance for the team to earn a spot will be this spring.
“When I started out, I was not the best guy at college,” Banks said. “I was given the opportunity to train with the national team, but I was cut three times before I made it. But sport teaches you to persevere.”