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Alumnus appointed Yale rowing captain

Often times, married couples look back at their first encounter and make humor out it. Austin Velte ’12 look backs at his first rowing practice and laughs.

Austin Velte / yalebulldogs.com
Austin Velte / yalebulldogs.com

It was the fall of Velte’s freshman year, the soccer season has come to a close, and he is in search of a sport for the winter.

“My friend Jeremy Gonzalez was on the rowing team and I always joked with him that I would come to the first practice,” Velte said. “The whole day I kept saying I would show up.”

All of the sudden, by some stroke of luck, what Velte had thought was just in jest turned out to be the truth.

“I missed my bus and it just so happened I had gym that day,” Velte said. “So I decided to go to crew practice and then I just kept coming back and eventually fell in love with it.”

As his senior year approached, Velte knew he wanted to continue in college and narrowed it down to Yale and Princeton because, “they were the most competitive lightweight programs.”

“I visited Yale one weekend and then Princeton the next weekend,” Velte said. “That following Monday I called the coach of Yale and made my commitment because I knew that’s where I wanted to go.”

Velte attributes much of his success in collegiate rowing to Coach Hoffman’s demanding workload.

“A lot of the guys on my team weren’t used to the work that was necessary to college rowing,” Velte said. “Whereas I was used to it and it some cases we did more work in high school.”

Likewise, Velte said Malvern also prepared him well for the rigorous academics that entail attending an Ivy League school. That being said, Velte definitely finds balancing academics, athletics, and social life challenging.

”Balancing just academic and social is hard enough,” Velte said. “But throwing in athletics means you have to really prioritize what’s important to you because you have to make sacrifices along the lines.”

As an Economics major, Velte knows well that all decisions come with a cost, and often times he finds he has to sacrifice certain things to stay dedicated to rowing.

“For me, I wanted to commit the most to my academics and my team. So at times you lose some of the whole college experience,” Velte said.

At Yale, Velte has found that getting excited about doing his work is actually rather easy for him.

“Teachers at Yale are very good at pushing me to not just do well on a test but to learn for my own interests and for the sake of learning,” Velte said. “I think this made learning more fun because I got to do what I was interested in and made the most of what the course had to offer, instead of slogging through homework just to get to bed or hang out with my friends.”

When Velte does have some free time, he retreats to the ceramics studio in the bottom floor of his residential college.

“I needed something to balance all the time I spend on athletic training and practices,” Velte said. “I found ceramics was perfect for that because it was very individual and personal and quiet.”

As a result of his regimented schedule, Velte said he has learned the skill it takes to balance life in the work force.

“Especially being a student athlete you have a lot on your plate everyday and being able to sort through your daily schedule will be important later in life whether in a job, or family, or whatever it is I need to balance,” Velte said.

Additionally, Velte has learned the value of hard work and how fruitful it can be.

“I found through rowing,” Velte said. “You can really do anything you wanna do just through hard work and dedication”

Velte’s hard work is already producing results.

This past summer Velte, along with Jim Sincavage ‘14 who is now at Princeton, got the chance to represent the U.S. at the U-23 World Championships in Bulgaria in the Lightweight double category. They started off slow, but ended up winning their bracket.

“Being able to represent your country on the world stage was really cool for us,” Velte said.

Velte hopes to carry over this success into his senior year at Yale as a captain.

“The best way to earn the trust of your team and coaches is to exemplify being a good teammate, yourself,” Velte said. “That’s working hard, that’s being dependable, that’s being consistent that’s being there for your team when they need you.”

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