Five years after rather reluctantly trying the sport, Nolan Parks hasn’t stopped rowing. He will compete at the world junior championships in August and row for Northeastern University in Boston starting this fall.
As Nolan Parks headed into summer break back when he was a seventh grader, his dad, Josh, wanted to fill his son’s time with activities. The previous summer had featured “too much screen time,” Parks’ dad said.
Parks’ dad signed his son up for rowing because Mount Baker Crew was near where he lived in Seattle. But Parks wasn’t interested.
“Kids that age can be, like, ‘I don’t want to try anything I’ve never done before,’ ” Parks’ dad said. “He didn’t have any friends who did it. It was a very foreign idea to him.”
Parks’ dad made him give it a try for the summer. He said his son didn’t have to continue if he didn’t want to. But now, five years later, Parks hasn’t stopped rowing. He chose to give up other sports to exclusively focus on rowing; the Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences graduate capitalized on his tall frame and natural ability.
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“I realized, through other people’s reactions, that I was doing some sort of impressive stuff,” Parks said. “And it motivated me to keep doing it.”
Parks found his way onto the 53-person roster of men and women heading to the 2017 World Rowing Junior Championships, which begin Aug. 2, in Trakai, Lithuania. Four other rowers from the Seattle area — Jenna Hardman, Riley Lynch, Aparajita Chauhan and Chase Barrows — will also compete. Parks and Barrows will be in the same boat as part of the men’s eight.
Erik Strand, who coaches Parks at Mount Baker Crew, said the sport’s presence seems to be constantly growing in this city that doesn’t lack access to water. Parks’ team practices on Lake Washington, usually south of I-90 near Seward Park.
And it helps that the University of Washington has a long tradition of rowing success, most recently with the women’s team winning the 2017 NCAA title.
“Having the University of Washington here, I think there’s definitely a rowing heritage in the Seattle area,” Strand said. “It’s a big part of the city’s history.”
That’s how Parks’ dad became familiar with the sport. He grew up in Seattle, and his dad was an economics professor at the university. Josh never rowed, but he respected the…