I was so proud of being Coach Hecht’s first UCI team captain. There were several bigger, stronger guys (Paul Ryan and Don Burns to name a couple) on our team. I’m not quite sure how the voting worked, but I got the feeling that there were competing first choices which cancelled each other out and I was fortunate enough to be enough people’s second choice to be elected team captain.
Coach Hecht provided the leadership focus for all of us: there were no individual stars. We were a team of 8 oarsmen and a coxwain. We each needed to carry our load by not only rowing well, but rowing together. Coach Hecht developed each boat like a finely tuned 8-cylinder race car. Each practice, he would move the coach’s launch alongside each position and calmly, but firmly address each of our rowing techniques: “Reach a little farther. Get your whole body into your stroke. Work on getting that oar in and out of the water without a ripple. That’s it, now keep it up.” And on he would move up the boat to the next position. No yelling. No screaming. Just focus, intensity and commitment.