Ben Finkelstein shares how crew has changed his life

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High school is about the holistic experience. It takes great dedication and passion to take advantage of FHC’s myriad of sports programs, but senior Ben Finkelstein has mastered the art of extracurricular balance. He participates- and excels- in three school sports: sailing, skiing, and crew.

“It’s busy,” Ben said. “But it’s all about time management. Having [sports like] crew helps balance my schedule out, and [it helps me] plan out when to do all my homework.”

Ben, who joined fall crew his freshman year, is now a co-captain for the sport.

“We’re looking forward to a great year,” Ben said. “But the team’s kind of small [this year]. Crew used to be one of the biggest teams in the school. My freshman year, we had over 120 people, but now we’re down [a lot].”

However, Ben has hopes that the team will grow in the future.

“The program ebbs and flows,” Ben said. “Right now, it’s just that [we are] more in an ebb than a flow.”

At the beginning of his high school career, Ben did not anticipate how greatly crew would affect his life.

“I joined in the fall because I wanted to condition for skiing [in the winter], but then I really liked it,” Ben said. “Now, all of my sports basically condition for the other two, which is nice.”

Sleep’s important, but I’d rather experience more of life- as much of life as possible- and I can’t do that when I’m sleeping.”

— Ben

Sports play a large role in Ben’s life. To further his love for these activities, he put his innovation to work and started FHC’s first sailing team during his junior year.

“I’ve been sailing since before [high school],” Ben said. “I’ve been a sailor for a long timea�� maybe [since I was] seven or eight [years old]. I guess I just enjoy water sports a lot. I like being out there on the water, in nature.”

While sailing and crew both take place in boats on the water, there are distinct differences between the feeling of the two sports.

“During a [crew] race, you just focus in so intensely that you [don’t notice] you’re done until the end of the race,” Ben said. “You try not to be conscious of the pain during the race. What you’re really in the race for is the results; it’s not like I’m having the time of my life during the [painful parts of the] race.”

Hard work pays off. Ben, who has won many medals for crew, has been racing in boats with seniors even before his senior year.

“My boat, the men’s lightweight eight, got gold at our state regatta last year,” Ben said. “It’s really great when you win, because [after you finish] you get to look back and see all the other teams’ boats who are still rowing toward you.”

Ben has the unique experience of both coxswaining and rowing for crew. When Ben broke his leg during his sophomore year ski season, he became a coxswain because he was not able to row.

“I like rowing better, so my goal is to always be a rower,” Ben said. “But the two positions are equally important. I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t row [at first], but it turned out that coxswaining was a lot of fun, and I got to be in boats with a lot of seniors when I was a sophomore.”

While the competition aspect is vital to any sport, Ben recognizes that it’s the people who truly make the team.

“I love all the connections I’ve made,” Ben said. “No matter what grade you’re in, [the entire team] bonds as one family. This is true for most sports, but crew especially. It’s really a special connection that makes you feel welcome anytime.”

Finding a community to share experiences with has really influenced Ben’s outlook on life.

“Practices are long, but they’re fun,” Ben said. “It’s a lot of being tired and in pain, but it makes you strong. When you’re on the water during a break, you just talk and hang out with [your teammates] in the boat. It’s such a cool experience to be with [the team].”

While Ben does not have a favorite sport, he enjoys different aspects of each one and could not imagine his life without such a sports-packed schedule.

“I don’t get a lot of sleep, but that’s fine,” Ben said. “Sleep’s important, but I’d rather experience more of life- as much of life as possible- and I can’t do that when I’m sleeping. I love all my sports, and each one has made me who I am today.”