This week's row2k Interview is with Trinity senior captain Luke Taylor, who walked on to the Trinity team after playing four seasons of minor league baseball with the Seattle Mariners organization.
row2k - Your background is in baseball and you even played professionally out of high school. What was your background in that sport?
Luke Taylor - In high school I played shortstop until my senior year when my coach, Terry Agnew, thought I would be affective from the mound. I threw around twenty innings that season and was lucky enough to be drafted. It was a surreal experience because I never really expected it to happen. I played four seasons in the Mariner’s minor league system before tearing my labrum and retiring.
row2k - Following your retirement, how did you find your way to Trinity and the sport of rowing?
Luke Taylor - After baseball with the Mariners I decided to move to Brooklyn where my brother had been living for a few years. I knew I wanted to go back to school but there were a few things I had to take care of, one of which was the SAT. Before I could apply anywhere I had to retake it because my old score had expired. I signed up for a class and retook it in June 2014. There were only a few schools that gave me a chance to apply late and Trinity was one of them.
After accepting Trinity’s offer, I couldn’t wait for move in day. When the day finally arrived, I went to check in at Koeppel Community Center and that is where I met the rowing team’s captain Andrew Peck along with Mark Komanecky and Chris White. I forget who reached out first but one of them said I was tall and should give rowing a shot. That following day, I went to an informational meeting and met with Edward Slater who was the Freshman coach at the time. He had me at competition and the prospect of winning betting shirts. I loved the idea of taking someone’s shirt.
row2k - What do you like most about rowing?
Luke Taylor - The feeling when all boats are on the line and the flag is about to drop. I get the biggest rush. It’s like nothing else I have ever experienced. Those first few strokes are chaotic and I love that feeling.
Taylor pitching in Spring Training 2013
row2k - What are some of the sports differences and similarities compared to baseball?
Luke Taylor - Physically the two are different, of course with rowing I’m more fit but when I played ball I was a lot stronger. Mentally I think all sports are similar. There are times when you question how good you are, how long you can hold on, or how long you can focus. It really comes down to how much you are willing to sacrifice to win. I have always felt that there are two ways of doing something, one hundred percent or not at all. I have found camaraderie to be the same everywhere, it is better to work together, like a fist, than individually.
row2k - You're a senior and returning captain, how is your role with the team different now than in previous seasons?
Luke Taylor - Freshmen year I was more concerned with figuring out what rowing was because I had never done it before. Most of my cohorts were in the same position as me. During my sophomore year, George Demoulas, my captain at the time asked me to take on a more active role in supporting him and Coach MacDermott in the direction they wanted to take the team. For me that meant putting in more work than I ever had before.
For the past two seasons, my co-captains and I have built on the foundation that George left us with his senior year. We have a strong tradition of excellence here, that bleeds into our everyday life. Most importantly though, having the privilege of calling ourselves Trinity Oarsmen is earned through hard work, determination, and dedication. The preservation of the legacy of Trinity rowing was instilled in me through my freshman coach Ed Slater. As a captain, it has been my goal and the goal of my co-captains the past two years, Will Corban and Charles Tuckwell respectively, to instill that legacy and ownership into the classes below us. It is something that I take seriously. Only when every rower and coxswain buys into the idea of being a Trinity Oarsman can something special happen.
row2k - What has been your fondest memory and why?
Luke Taylor - My fondest memories are from the winter training sessions. I love taking care of business with a bunch of guys who want to win. There’s nothing like it. It is also where lifelong friendships were forged. When I was a novice, I watched how the upperclassmen took care of their business. It made me respect them but also gave me a chance to see who they were. I found common ground with a bunch of guys I barely knew. They were competitive, hardworking, and fun to be around. Being a 22-year-old freshman, I was concerned about making friends but the rowing team at Trinity gave me all the friends I could need. I couldn’t be more thankful for that.
row2k - What are you studying at Trinity and do you have any plans yet for after college?
Luke Taylor - I am a writing, rhetoric, public policy and law major. I’m hoping to live in Brooklyn after I graduate and secure a job before graduation. I have a few irons in the fire, so we’ll see what happens.