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Q&A With Bryan Volpenhein

JL: What did it feel like to jump from rowing for a club team at Ohio State to racing in the World Championships with the USA?  Were you surprised by your success?

Bryan Volpenhein: I was terrified at first.  The volume was way higher and the guys were way better.  I went from being a big fish in a little pond to, well, a gigantic pond.  It was scary at first, but it ended up being the same dynamic, the same type of guys.
I was surprised when I first made the team, but more than surprised I was just trying to keep my head above water in that environment.  I just kind of went and did it.
JL: What were the best and worst parts of life on the national team?
B.V.: Is it bad that I can't think of any bad parts?  There weren't really any bad parts.  We didn't race enough.
The best parts- fame and fortune.
JL: You're one of the most decorated U.S. rowers.  What's the "secret" to your success?
B.V.: There aren't really any secrets.  I got lucky with genetics and then it's just hard work and putting in the time.  Keeping perspective is important.  No matter how good you are you can always get better.  You're only as good as your last day.
JL: What has the transition from athlete to coach been like?  Have you encountered challenges you weren't expecting?
B.V.:  The hardest part has been NOT saying, "when I was an athlete..." because I always hated that.  But the real challenge is finding different ways to communicate how I understand the rowing stroke so that a diverse group of athletes can get it.  Also, I'm not the most organized person, so I've had to really try to stay on top of office work.  Other than that, I love it so far.  Being retired is nice.
JL: What are some of the coolest things you've gotten to do as a result of being awesome at rowing?
B.V.: Cooking on the Today Show, and throwing Katie Couric in the water.  I got to meet Henry Kissinger which was pretty cool.  Just his presence- you get the feeling that he's seen a lot of stuff. 
I've gotten to see a lot of the world. 
September 3 is Bryan Volpenhein day in Kings Local School District in Cincinnati, and to this day the baseball and softball teams have to run "Volpenheins" when they're late.  I have a lap named after me because I was late so much.
JL: A lot of the media coverage you've received has been about you being a great chef and a great rower.  How do you feel about that?
It feels weird because I don't really feel like a chef.  People think just because I went to school that I'm a chef, but it doesn't really work like that.  I don't really pay attention though.
JL: Any noteworthy, non-rowing, athletic achievements?
B.V.: I've got mad skills on the b.ball court, dunking on Jimmy Sopko... I tied my 12 year-old sister in the 100m dash last year.
JL: Thoughts on JL unis?
B.V.:  The most comfortable unis I've had were JL unis!
     

 

 

 

 

 

Lou Kinder - March 3, 2010