Improve your rowing – improve your whole self

Improve your rowing – improve your whole self

10 May 2023

Sam Jefferis (Sargood Year 13) gave an inspiring speech at the St Paul’s Collegiate School Rowing Prizegiving on Friday 5 May.

There were 130 people present including athletes, staff, family and coaches. Sam has inspired and motivated others through his tenacity and hard work during his five years of rowing at St Paul’s; his speech was a fitting way to celebrate what was an amazing year for St Paul’s rowers.

Sam’s speech

It’s often said comparison is the thief of joy, yet the rowers in this club prove this wrong time and time again. In particular, at the Maadi we just had – my final ever. Head-on-head against the likes of Hamilton Boys' High School and St Andrew’s College; the 2000-strong factories, who knew that the small co-ed school coming out of Hamilton would put up the fight as they often did and come out victorious.

In a 2000m battlefield of pain and conquer, this season was a David and Goliath story. So comparing ourselves to other clubs makes me realise how strong we really are. This small club often has a special feel to it, a sort of buzz and every single rower has felt it. Our coaches, our rowers, our parents – many hands lifted us to the soaring heights of 9th place in the country.

If the chubby little me, in this room five years ago, had to take a guess where we’d be sitting now, I wouldn’t even come close. Honestly, I thought I’d done my dash at the end of my very first season. I didn’t make the crews I wanted, I wasn’t enjoying it and if there was Maadi that year, I doubt I would’ve gone. But I refused to quit, I wanted more.

The next two seasons were a slow burn, making A finals but never touching a medal. I had developed some big dreams and I pushed myself to some dark places to reach them. This sport has the ability to plunge you into the unthinkable areas of your mind; places I may never see again. It’s these states of mind where you learn to keep pushing until you see the light. It’s through this process of leaving the world and re-entering that, inch by inch, you improve not only your rowing but your whole self.

It was only three months ago when things finally began to click for me and believe me when I say it’s endlessly worth it. To every rower in this room who feels the way I felt, I promise you, the unthinkable happens. Regardless of your results or your awards, keep fighting the good fight.

This sport, as testing it can be, is a privilege. Behind every rower is a hard-working parent fighting to keep them there, often hiding it. So thank you to Mum and Dad, for not only my five years but for my sister’s five years at Dio and my brother’s five years here. It’s finally over. Thank you to everyone who I know, and don’t know, who are keeping this club going. And thank you to the guys that I fought alongside every step of the way, what a five years it’s truly been.

The Prizegiving results for 2023

  • Les Varney Trophy (most improved novice rower): Lachie Murphy
  • Coxswains Cup (top coxswain): James Verry
  • Most Conscientious Club Member (contribution from a non-rower): Sheree Coombes & Greg Dunn
  • Veterans Cup (best support from a rowing member): Jack Ganley
  • St Paul’s Shield (most improved rower in all age groups): Jayden King
  • Nick Winkelmann Trophy (for perseverance): Ella Rich
  • School Oar (most successful team of the year): BU17 2
  • Boys ERG (fastest score): Gane Harbutt
  • Girls ERG (fastest score): Jenna Brangwynne
  • The 1x Trophy (best sculler in club): Sophie Dunn
  • The Seath Cup (best rower in all grades): Gane Harbutt
  • The Steiner Trophy (outstanding leadership from a female rower): Prabnoor Gill
  • Presidents Cup (outstanding leadership from a male rower): Gane Harbutt