By Carolyn Linck, '11
Though growing up in Boston, Mass., where crew is very popular, senior captain, Wills Fallon (WF), had never rowed until he came to Santa Clara University. Looking to find a new sport to feed his competitive nature after high school, Fallon joined the crew team in 2007, and it has been a major part of his life ever since. Recently www.SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCB) caught up with Fallon about his four years of rowing for the Broncos, his hopes for his senior season and his post-graduation plans.
SCB: How did you start participating in crew at Santa Clara? Did you do crew in high school?
WF: While I come from Boston, where rowing is a huge part of the fabric of the city, I had never actually been to a regatta or a race before coming to SCU. Like most rowers at Santa Clara and across the nation, I did not come to college looking to row. But, after competing as a swimmer and a tennis player growing up, I knew I could not leave my desire for competition empty. I met the men's novice coach during welcome weekend, filled out the paper work and next thing I knew I was on the rowing team as a member of the novice team.
SCB: What do you feel you have learned in your four years of rowing at SCU?
WF: I have learned a greater sense of commitment and unity to a cause, and how with commitment and unity you can accomplish great things. It's cheesy, but I truly think that the collective mindset of this team to be the best that we can be has allowed us to be successful. I have never witnessed a more committed and dedicated group of student athletes who take pride in everything they do both on and off the water. As a team we have been pushed to the brink of exhaustion during long practices on the erg and on the water, but it has made us stronger for each race. Along with the rest of the team, I have learned how to push myself physically in rowing, giving everything I can to my teammates, my coaches, and the school.
SCB: What is your role on the team now as a senior?
WF: With 11 seniors on the team, we are not lacking in senior leadership. As a class we have had one of the more successful careers at Santa Clara and this year we have come together to lead as a group. Being on the team for 4 years we have had unique experiences and are able to lend our anecdotes to underclassmen learning the technique and rhythm that we are trying to establish in the boat. As captain, I also have to be aware of the overall mentality of rowers. I think people feel like I'm someone they can come and talk to about anything that's going on – whether it's with classes, the team, or whatever else is on their minds.
SCB: How has being a member of the crew team enhanced your college experience?
WF: This team has been my family. From rowing, I have over 30 "brothers" that I have shared countless hours of travel, practice, competition and down time with. As a team we are close, whether it's joking around in the boathouse, or inviting everyone over for the first annual SCU Men's Crew Team Thanksgiving Dinner, I have memories from four years that I will cherish far beyond graduation. I think, in a sense, this has helped us be an even better team because we are so close, that we do not want to let each other down.
SCB: What is your favorite memory in your four years of rowing for Santa Clara?
WF: The Western Intercolliegate Rowing Association weekend in 2010. Coming in 3rd WIRAs in the Varsity 8+ last year and winning the WCC championship was amazing. We finished with an unbelievable sprint to hold off Gonzaga at the end, celebrated with the other eight members of the boat on the water, and then the rest of the team on the shore. It was a surreal experience. Everything just happened to click over that weekend. We executed a near perfect race plan in the heat the day before and rowed out of our minds in difficult conditions in the Grand Final. The whole thing was an experience I'll never forget.
SCB: What are you looking forward to most in your senior season? What are your goals and expectations for this year?
WF: I'm looking forward to improving on our results from last year. While we did well at WIRA's, I think a lot of the returners in the Varsity 8+ had sour tastes in our mouths about our showing at the San Diego Crew Classic and other races through the spring. Our goal this season is to repeat, if not better, our performance at WIRA's. We would also love to win the San Diego Crew Classic because we will be competing against some of the best schools from around the country.
SCB: How do you balance rowing with academics?
WF: Because of the early mornings on the water, and the afternoon practices in Leavey, it's been a process over the past four years to find the right balance of academics and rowing. Ultimately, rowing has taught me how to be on top of my academics. I know that because of practices I can't pull all-nighters to study for tests like some of my friends do, so I try to study and get papers done ahead of time. Obviously it can never be an exact science, but I think my grades speak for themselves, that I've been able to balance academics and crew throughout my college experience.
SCB: What are your post-graduation plans?
WF: This past summer I completed an audit internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers, in San Jose. At the end of the internship I was offered a full-time position after graduation. I gladly accepted, and will begin work with PwC in San Jose beginning in September 2011!