Asher’s Journey: Navigating the Waters of Rowing Excellence


Amy Patent

Senior Asher Patent has committed to row at Yale University.

The sun dances on the surface of the water, casting a golden glow over sleek boats gliding through the river. In the heart of the action is senior Asher Patent, his oar cutting through the water with precision, a portrait of determination and strength. As he crosses the finish line, the cheers of Asher’s teammates echo against the riverbanks—a victorious moment etched in the memory of the Chicago Rowing Foundation’s (CRF) community.
Asher’s rowing journey began in the uncharted waters of uncertainty. Up until his parents enrolled him in a summer camp before seventh grade, he lacked any rowing knowledge.
“I didn’t even know what the boats looked like; I thought it was like kayaking,” Asher said. Little did he know that this chance introduction would evolve into a passion that would shape his high school years and extend into the competitive realm of collegiate rowing.
The challenges of the sport are not lost on Asher. In the ordeal that is rowing, Asher confronts not just the physical demands of the sport but also the mental challenges it presents. The standard racing distance of 2,000 meters is exhausting, demanding intensity that pushes both physical and mental boundaries.
“Six minutes is a long time to be in physical pain,” he said, underscoring the sport’s unyielding demand for enduring lactic acid buildup and sustaining peak performance.
Senior Nate Weglarz, who also rows at CRF, said, “Even though everyone is hurting, no one can express any slight fatigue.”
Along with the challenges in the boat, rowing has been a heavy time commitment for Asher that taught him the importance of managing his time. “In high school, you can focus on three things: your social life, sports, and academics; however, getting into rowing, I had to sacrifice a lot of time with friends and family to spend more time training,” Asher said. “I put in hours after practice, woke up early on Saturday mornings, and did extra workouts.”
Nate added, “Asher has the immense dedication and work ethic only a select number on the rowing team have.”
Similarly, CRF Coach Matt Dignan, who has watched Asher’s passion for rowing progress over the past six years, said, “Asher’s journey from a middle school rower who was just trying to figure out what rowing was all about, to one of the top recruits in the country, is a testament to his single-minded determination to get the absolute best out of himself.”
In addition to the hefty time (and body) commitment, the rhythmic pull of oars, and the shared pulse of determination, the camaraderie within the rowing team emerged as a defining force for Asher. “I really enjoyed being around the guys on the team,” he said.
Nate echoed this sentiment and emphasized the critical role of trust while in the boat. “Races are decided by split-second decisions, and in those moments, there is no room for anyone to doubt their boat mates,” he said.
Coach Dignan recognized the team’s cohesion, noting that Asher’s journey showcases his leadership and commitment, setting an example for others. The camaraderie extends beyond the water, shaping a culture of shared workouts and high standards at the CRF. In the crucible of teamwork, rowers like Asher find not only athletic rewards, but a profound sense of unity that transcends the challenges of the sport.
As Asher navigated the waters of college decisions, he faced a pivotal choice between Yale and another institution. Ultimately, his confidence in Yale’s academic and rowing programs won. “I thought that I would have more fun there and enjoy the team more there and enjoy the academics there more than the other school, so that was the decision, and I got on the phone with the coach, which locked it in,” Asher said.
Despite his dedication to rowing, Asher is cognizant of its place in his future. “I really want to explore the academics at Yale,” he said. Math and physics entice him as possible areas of study. “Ultimately, rowing is not something I can go into and make money off of,” he said. “There is no NFL for rowing.”
Coach Dignan acknowledged Asher’s journey from a bewildered middle school rower to a top recruit. “[Asher] leads with respect, humility, and tenacity to always be improving,” he said.
Asher’s journey in the world of rowing is not just about victories on the water but also the triumphs over personal challenges, the sacrifices made, and the leadership he provides to his team.
Yale Crew has secured a gem for the seasons to come, Coach Dignan said. “[They have] done themselves an enormous favor signing Asher.”