THE PAIN CAVE In the first, second and sixth seats, respectively, Christian Duessel ‘20, Blake Hudspeth ‘21 and Drake Elliot ‘22 race in the Head of the Charles regatta together.
THE PAIN CAVE In the first, second and sixth seats, respectively, Christian Duessel ‘20, Blake Hudspeth ‘21 and Drake Elliot ‘22 race in the Head of the Charles regatta together.

From Bachman to Boston

After rowing together in high school on the Lions crew team, three alumni are in the top boat at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, looking to continue their legacy of rowing success

Eight spots. Three boys. One dream. 

Christian Duessel ‘20, Blake Hudspeth ‘21 and Drake Elliott ‘22 took their love of rowing to the next level by getting recruited to compete for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Even though they graduated in different years, their introduction to the sport was the same. All three found themselves at Bachman Lake after an older brother who joined the crew team earlier sparked the flame of competitive rowing that burns bright in each of them.

In order to get recruited, all three rowers trained on the rowing machine for hundreds of hours.

“Rowing takes a lot of behind the scenes work to just building up your endurance and your mental and physical toughness,” Hudspeth said.

Through rowing, they were able to develop their fitness, as well as their leadership skills. Those characteristics shown in the first three years on the St. Mark’s team made them captains during their senior year.

“They all had different leadership styles, but the one thing in common was they all led with the example of hard work,” head varsity rowing coach Pitts Yandell said.

Besides pushing themselves to the limit, they also all worked tirelessly to encourage those around them to improve. 

“All three of them were excellent teammates,” Pitts said. “Their accomplishments were certainly impressive, and they were always there for others’ accomplishments as well. They made sure that their team and their teammates were doing the best they could to succeed.”

Hudspeth, a team captain at MIT, feels like it is his job to motivate the team when nobody else can, which he accomplished through leading by example. 

“I felt a big responsibility to make sure that when I was captain, we still kept that strength and that community and that culture older guys established,” Hudspeth said. “When you are a senior, when you are in these leadership positions, you owe it to them and you owe it to the younger guys. It’s always about passing it forward to the next generation.”

While pushing your teammates forward is a huge factor in the overall success of a team, pushing oneself is equally important.

“These guys love working out and pushing beyond their limits,” Pitts said. “Whatever boat they were in, there was an inherent drive in each of them to succeed for their team.”

In order to earn their spot in the varsity boat, all three rowers went through a long, bumpy path.

“I didn’t row my freshman year because I was injured, and during my sophomore year, I was in the second boat,” Duessel said. “But I did a lot of strength training over the summer and was able to come back healthy in the fall, when I was selected for the top boat along with Blake and Drake.”

Even with their rigorous course loads at MIT, they are still able to stay on top of their work.

“I have great study habits that I only gained because of having to cram for tests every week or two at St. Mark’s,” Duessel said. “Doing that hundreds of times really ingrained the great study habits that allow me to manage it all here.”

Despite the fact that each of the three are very accomplished rowers, there are still times when the path to success can be unclear.

“There are definitely ups and downs,” Duessel said. “Over the course of a season, you hope to have improvement, but that certainly doesn’t always happen. You’re just looking to have a trend of improvement over a long time.”

Such trends over time are caused by sheer dedication and love of the sport, so when someone puts this much heart into a sport, they will also motivate those around them.

“A rising tide lifts all boats, and they were the rising tide,” Pitts said. “They each stood out individually on the team for their performance, for their character and for their leadership.”

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