Profile: Pioneer’s Wishart is rowing to great success – in and out of the boat


Following in mom’s footsteps is never a bad idea – even if those steps lead you off terra firma. For Pioneer’s James David Wishart, following mom’s lead and advice have resulted in not only success but some of the best times of his young life – and land or water.

“I became interested in rowing because my mom used to row and she encouraged me to join a group in high school,” says Wishart, one of the team captains this season for Pioneer rowing.

But joining crew wasn’t a slam dunk.

“I was on the fence about it,” he admits. “I wasn’t very athletic in middle school, but at registration for ninth grade a member of crew said ‘you’re tall, you should join crew,’ so I signed my email as interested and began going on the first day of school.”

It was a decision he’s glad he made. The 17-year-old senior says his experience in crew has been fun and rewarding.

“Everybody’s pretty friendly and we all dedicate ourselves to our craft,” says Wishart, the son of Matthew and Paula Wishart. “I’m a bit of an introvert but I feel comfortable around the team. If you work hard and actively try to become better, you’ll find it easy to fit in no matter how fast you are. The people on the team are some of the nicest I know.”

Wishart, who rows to a 4.0 grade-point average in the classroom, is a group leader for the Solar Group for Pioneer Sustainability Coalition and is a member of NHS.

Pioneer crew is a program built on success and Wishart believes success is earned through a team-focus approach. He says the team is successful year in and year out because they all work to be better.

“The coaches will help you with anything you need and while they want crew to be important to everyone, they also understand we have a lot of obligations,” he said. “If something comes up, so long as you give a heads up and it’s not something trivial, they understand. It helps us not to feel trapped by crew and burn out.”

At Pioneer, the coaching staff sets the example and the rowers follow their course.

“The coaches also are very talented,” says Wishart. “They know what makes a boat fast and how to achieve those results. If you follow their instructions you will become fast. When we are at practice we are expected to give our all and pretty much everyone understands and meets this expectation. It is a lot easier to work hard if you know everyone else is too. We strive for excellence and often achieve it.”

Indeed they do. And it’s going well this fall for the Pioneers, according to the captain.

“The team as a whole is faster than it has been in a long while,” he said. “There is a drive to get better and we’re holding ourselves to it. The season for me personally has gone well. I am in the best cardiovascular shape that I’ve ever been. At almost every regatta so far we’ve done very well. At Frogtown all but a few of our 20 plus boats medaled. At scrimmages we’ve also done well, consistently showing peak performance.”

In crew, the fall is really training for the spring season. The goal in the fall is to build a cardiovascular base which they can then use to push their aerobic threshold.

It’s his job as captain to help steer the ship. And it’s a job Wishart doesn’t take lightly.

“Being a captain to me means making sure that all the little things go well so that the coaches can focus on the bigger things,” he says. “We make sure equipment is treated properly and secured properly when we load the trailer. We make sure that the team, especially the novices, are on task at practice and regattas.

“The coaches have to focus on things like making sure boats launch on time and that all of the logistics work out so they don’t have the time to make sure that all the boats are secure on the trailer or that we have enough slings. I see myself as a friendly face, someone to confide in. I try to be nice to everyone I meet and inspire confidence that I can be trusted.”

After high school, Wishart plans on going to college and earn a bachelors and masters in computer engineering. He hasn’t picked out his destination just yet for college but says, “there are so many good ones out there that in the end I’d be happy going to any of them.”

He also hasn’t decided whether he will row in college.

“Collegiate rowing is on a completely different level than high school rowing and I’m not sure if I’m ready for that,” he says.


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