Campbell Rogers is not one to take his sport lightly. He practices two hours every day on the Charles River, as he has for the past four years. He avoids alcohol from February through June. And he sleeps a certain number of hours every night. "Everything in his life," four-year teammate Dan Simon says, "is very regimented around crew."
And for Campbell Rogers, quiet, determined, disciplined and competitive, that is why he is where he is today. The 21-year-old senior is captain and bow man on the best heavyweight crew in the East, if not the nation.
Roger's affiliation with Harvard crew began three and a half years ago when, after playing J.V. hockey, he made his first trek to Newell Boathouse. It was not an auspicious beginning. He started training six months later than his teammates, who had begun in the fall, and Roger was one of the smallest oarsmen out for the heavyweight crew. Still, he could rely on five years experience of rowing in high school and on his willingness to work harder than just about anyone else.
Rogers surprised many by making the first boat, which was "a real act of will more than anything else," according to freshman coach Ted Wash burn. The boat was undefeated until its last race, which it lost in Yale.
Since then Rogers has worked his way up, rowing J.V. his sophomore year and then claiming the bow seat on the varsity last year. Currently Rogers is one of the two best starboards on the Harvard crew roster. When it came to seat-racing last fall, the oarsman was exempted from the head-to head challenges because, as coxswain Simon recalls. "There was no doubt" about his abilities.
Both inside and outside the boathouse, Harvard's captain acts in the interests of his performance, but then no one else on the team has had to overcome Rogers's disadvantages. The lightest oarsman in the boat and the shortest by several inches, the Eliot House resident makes up in technique and hard work what he lacks in size. Rogers is generally acknowledged to have the smoothest blades man ship of the team, an oarsman devoted to his craft.
And in a sport that places a premium on both physical and mental preparation. Rogers epitomizes the dedicated athletic. "He set a tough standard right from the start." Coach Harry Parker says, recalling that Rogers initiated grueling double workouts daily a full eight months before the season began this year.
Rogers knew what it would take to restore Harvard's dominance in collegiate crew, a position which has been challenged in recent years by Yale. "Most of the team realized we would have to do something different this year if we were going to have a good season." Rogers says, adding. "Harvard crews can't afford to slack off anymore to win you need to row your absolute best because of the new competition.
For Rogers, winning is the ultimate justification for the hours put in at training. The usually reserved oarsman is known to finish the last 10 meters of important races yelling at the top of his lungs in his enthusiasm to finish first.
Rogers's approach to crew has made him an ideal captain. In a sport known for egos and prima donnas, Rogers's easygoing personality provides a soothing counterbalance. "As captain he has been exceptionally effective in a very quiet but also very effective way." Parker says.
Washburn also has high praise. Having seen Harvard oarsmen come and go for almost 20 years, the coach says. "There's no question that Campbell stands out as an outstanding and effective captain. He's a great, inspirational leader, one of the very, very best we've had in the boathouse."
In many respects Rogers is everything one would expect of a Harvard crew captain. His father went to Yale. His mother went to Radcliffe Rogers is a product of Winchester, Mass, where one Harry Parker also happens to reside Rogers spent five years rowing for Brown and Nichols, and recalls watching the Harvard boats with awe as they glided along the Charles River.
As a senior in high school, Rogers applied and was admitted to Yale, but decided to take a postgraduate year at Excter and then chose Harvard Fate, it would seem had ordained it.
For Rogers, the Harvard Yale rivalry holds special meaning. His parental legacy and college choices are part of it. More importantly, in three years at Harvard, his boat has never beaten Yale in a head to head race. The final chance comes June 5 at New London, Conn, when the crews race for the Sexton Cup.
The Race, for Harvard crew, is equivalent to The Game for Harvard football. "We spend out whole year pointing for one 20 minute race," Rogers explains.
One oarsman does not a championship boat make. But regardless of how the 1983 Harvard varsity boat fares against Yale and then at Nationals, one thing is assured. The smallish guy in the bow will have pulled his weight, and much much more.