Kelly continues a vibrant rowing career
By Daalny Meyer, Reporter
When Senior Davis Kelly joined the Burton Beach Rowing Club (BBRC) in eighth grade, he had no plans to continue with the sport. Kelly originally joined to help fill a boat for a regatta, when his older sister was rowing on the team. Now, Kelly intends to row after high school and has already competed on national and international levels.
BBRC coach, Richard Parr, who has been involved with rowing for 30 years, reflected on Kelly’s introduction.
“Davis joined us in a very weird way. In the spring we had three novice boys, and we were all going to a big regatta in Brentwood. For novices at Brentwood, the smallest boat size is four, so that was a problem,” Parr said. “And Kate [Kelly] said, ‘Well, my little brother Davis is coming with the family to watch me row. Why don’t we train him for a week and he can row with the boys?’ So he literally rowed for three days and then raced in Brentwood in the novice quad and did really well.”
After his original introduction, Kelly began to discover his own interest in rowing, which has expanded over the years.
“I was sort of dropped into a boat. I really didn’t know what I was doing,” Kelly said. “My sister had done [crew] before me, [and] she really loved it. She was sort of the inspiration for [joining crew], [but] it sort of sank its teeth in and never really let go. I’ve been doing it ever since and have really enjoyed every moment.”
Kelly’s teammates are grateful for his support, encouragement, and positive attitude on the team. Junior Kaylee Radford, a teammate who has been rowing for 10 months, knew him prior to joining the team.
“He had been trying to get me to go rowing with him for a long time. When I did show up, I was a little bit nervous, and he was just extra supportive and a really nice, friendly face there,” she said. “[He’s] always working hard and setting a good example. He really just is a positive person on the team; always encouraging everybody, no matter if they’ve just joined, or if they’ve been there longer than him.”
As a teammate, Radford noted Kelly’s victorities at competitions and his constant support for other competing rowers.
“Davis just came back from Boston, and he did really well there. I was really impressed with how well he and his double partner Jordan [Dykema] did,” Radford said. “We’ve been to two regattas together. We were both busy, but every chance he got he was asking everybody on the team like ‘Oh, how was your race? I bet you guys did so good.’ ”
Kelly has participated in many important competitions since joining the team. He won at a race in China when he was 15, medaled in Boston at the Head of the Charles, and rowed for team USA at the world championships in Bulgaria last summer. His skill has also placed him on the US Rowing honor roll.
Over the years, Kelly has discovered how important certain aspects of crew and the team atmosphere are in making it an enjoyable sport.
“I think the biggest thing is the people that you meet and the places that you go,” Kelly said. “To me, it’s not really about just the sport itself … the reason why I do it is because of those other things. I’ve met people who are going to be lifelong friends, not just here from the island, but from around the country, and even around the world. That’s something that I’ve really taken away from it: it’s about the people.”
Kelly has plans to continue rowing in college and beyond. He’s looking forward to participating in the sport for a long time to come.
“I’ve committed to Brown University next year, [and] I’m going to row there,” he said. “I’d like to continue as long as I can. I’ve seen people row up into their 90s, and that’s something that attracts me about it.”
Parr considers Kelly to be a very valuable part of the team, and an important person not only as an athlete, but in all aspects of life.
“How fast you make a rowing boat go in the great scheme of life isn’t that important,” Parr said. “What you learn in the process and the character traits you display are [important], and I think he will certainly be successful in everything that he does because of his willingness to just do the work, be humble, and be quiet. In a world that’s sorely lacking integrity, he’s like a breath of fresh air.”