row2k Features
Interview
Rhode Island's Atticus Makuch
February 14, 2024
Erik Dresser, row2k.com

Rhode Island's Atticus Makuch (center) racing with Logan Bukowski and Billy Bourke

We continue our preview of the 2024 spring collegiate season with an interview with Atticus Makuch of the University of Rhode Island. We chat with him on how he found URI, training while in the Army Reserve, and more.

row2k - How did you get your start in rowing and how did you end up at URI?

Atticus Makuch - I actually had the opportunity to row during my junior and senior years of high school at E.O. Smith in Storrs, CT. Before that, I swam and played tennis. Swimming was definitely how I built my cardio base and it contributed a lot to my rowing fitness. I took a couple years off from sports to study at the University of North Texas my freshman year, and then undergo training for the Army. I missed my family and being near the water, so since my parents had moved to Providence I figured URI was a good fit.

row2k - How did you find your way into the rowing program?

Atticus Makuch - You might say I recruited myself. During covid, I missed the intensity and camaraderie of rowing a lot more than I expected, so when I was applying to transfer to URI I made it a priority to find out more about the team and earn myself a spot. I reached out to the recruitment chairs through the team’s website and the rest is history.

Makuch (center) following graduation from Advanced Individual Training
Makuch (center) following graduation from Advanced Individual Training

row2k - You’re in the Army, what is your role and how did you decide to pursue that path?

Atticus Makuch - Yup, I enlisted in the reserves in 2020 as a 91B (Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic) for a Military Police Unit. Basically that means I fix all the trucks and train alongside the MP’s. My dad was in the National Guard and my sister is active duty Army; she’s one of few women to be part of an elite group of combat engineers called Sappers. She was and still is a big inspiration to me, even though what I do is pretty low-key in comparison. The timing worked out well because 9 months total of basic training and mechanic school was a great way to eat up some time during lockdown.

row2k - How do you balance your time between school, rowing and your military obligations?

Atticus Makuch - It’s a lot of work for sure, but I’ve always found if I cut out distractions and plan stuff well ahead of time, I can squeeze a lot more in than I thought. The reserves is one weekend a month so as long as that doesn’t overlap with regattas, it’s usually no big deal. I’ve been helped out a lot along the way by my coaches and professors, who have always been flexible and understanding about my many commitments.

row2k - What do you like most about the sport of rowing?

Atticus Makuch - Pretty standard answer I guess, but the teamwork gets me so fired up. I’ve never been closer to a group of people than our V8+, and on the occasions that we can find real swing and move as one, it’s a feeling unlike any other. I’ve yet to find another sport whose highs and lows are as extreme as those in rowing. The opportunity to share those experiences with my teammates is what keeps me showing up at 5 am every day.

row2k - What has been your most memorable race and why?

Atticus Makuch - Our repechage in the MV8 at ACRA 2023. We needed first place to advance to the A/B semifinals, and were trailing behind UC Irvine by almost a full length entering the last 500. Our coxswain Nolan Deschenes made the veteran move of calling our final sprint way early at the 400 meter mark. Our stroke man Joe Connors was right there with him, and as he brought the rate up to a 40, you could feel the energy of all the boys buying in and taking that big gamble. Once we smelled blood in the water, there was no stopping us. A couple hundred meters later, we were ahead, and managed to hold onto our lead til the end. Even though it was just a rep, in many ways that race was the pinnacle of our boat’s season, and was representative of the culture we had worked so hard to build that year. I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.

row2k - What are you studying at URI and do you have any other plans for after graduation?

Atticus Makuch - I’m a double major: Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, and General Business. My goal is to work in the renewable energy industry in some capacity, or to help design energy policy for the state or federal government. Rhode Island is big on sustainability right now and renewables in particular, so I think it’s a great time to enter this field. The climate crisis is happening here and now and I hope to play some role in solving it.

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