By Matthew Shepherd, ’19

It’s a misty morning in Ashland, Oregon. Senior Cameron Hutchinson, a long-time rower at UAHS, steps onto a racing boat with seven other young men from around the country. Hutchinson’s morning will close discussions with coaches and rowing for 2 1/2 hours. After three years of hard work on the UAHS crew, Hutchinson has finally reached Junior National Team Under 18 High Performance Camp, a highly selective summer training camp in Camden, New Jersey.

Cameron’s journey did not begin in Ashland. It began 3 years ago at the UAHS boathouse by Griggs Reservoir. There, Hutchinson—a freshman at the time—discovered his love for rowing and his willingness to put full effort into it.

“We had fall racing, winter training and then the spring regular season, as well as summer rowing,” Hutchinson said.

Despite the work the sport required, Hutchinson found something special in it. From then on, he started to dream big, hoping to one day row with the best.

“I decided I would try to reach that other level of rowing. I told my that to my coaches, and they just told me to work hard every day,” he said.

When sophomore year began, Hutchinson had fully committed to improving his rowing abilities.

“I woke up early to go on a run and lift on my own. Over the summer, I volunteered to teach other kids how to row, which also kept me in shape,” Hutchinson said.

Following two years of hard work, Hutchinson felt fast enough to achieve his goals. The first step was to attend an identification camp. There, coaches and rowers would meet and the rowers would exhibit their abilities on an erg—a rowing machine. Doing well would mean securing a spot at the Junior National Team training camp.

“They had us row 2,000 meters for time. That was awful. They’re hell,” he said.

For four weeks, Hutchinson waited for further communication. One day, when he returned home, his mom showed him an email she received from the camp’s coaches.

“[The email] read that I had been accepted into the summer training camp,” he said, “I felt ecstatic, and was completely caught off guard. I wasn’t expecting it.”

The next hurdle for Hutchinson was the camp’s price tag: $5,000. Thankfully, Hutchinson’s team and the community helped him achieve this hefty goal.

“My parents and I decided the best route to help pay for the camp was crowdsource funding. I was, and still am, extremely grateful toward the community for giving me the opportunity to go to the camp,” he said.

Following the end of the spring season, Hutchinson prepared to head to Ashland. Starting on June 14, and Hutchinson and his team trained their hardest to dominate at the regatta in Camden, which was held July 11-15.

By the time the camp went to New Jersey, Hutchinson had earned a spot on the first boat. From then on, Hutchinson’s most important race was the one they had been training to win: the U-19 Men’s 8.

“We ended up winning our main event by 3 seconds over 2000 meters, exactly what we had come there to do,” Hutchinson said.

After winning the U-19, the boat moved on to the intermediate event, in which they were the only non-collegiate boat. After the time trials, the boat was seated eleventh, making into the semifinals.

“We didn’t purposefully sandbag the race. We had raced eight times in the two days beforehand— we didn’t really have anything left,” Hutchinson said.

In the next race, the boys improved in their placement. They placed second in their heat, only 0.7 second behind the leaders. Their goal now was to medal in the finals

“In the end, we took third over three other extremely talented boats full of world-class athletes,” he said.

After years of training, Cameron’s goals had been achieved, but he was not finished. Next summer, Cameron hopes to represent the United States on the international team.

“Next summer I really hope to be in Tokyo representing the United States. Right now, though, I just want to focus on helping UA in the upcoming fall and spring seasons,” Hutchinson said.