Darrell Moody: Carson High graduate Terek Been rowing for Cornell
When Carson High graduate Terek Been opted not to play baseball at University of Toronto because of a lingering injury from high school, he was looking for something to stay active.
“The baseball coach there (in Toronto) said I was going to be on the team, but I decided not to play because of my hip,” Been said. “A few days later, there was a club fair for the university. I was walking around and one of the guys said that there was a novice program for people who had never rowed before.
“I decided to give it a try. I knew that if I didn’t do something active, I would just sit around all the time. I didn’t know what else to do. I’d never rowed before, but I’d done crossfit, and rowing was part of the workout, and I was always OK at that.”
Little did Been know that his life, both in education and athletics, would change forever. He got hooked on the sport, and he has improved by leaps and bounds.
The sophomore found out rowing wasn’t as easy as it looked.
“Rowing is a fitness sport,” Been said. “You are supposed to be pushing to the limit every time. There is a lot more technique than you would think. They put me in a single boat and I flipped it a whole bunch of times. I was pretty frustrated at the start. I still have a long way to go in terms of technique.
“They put me on an 8-man boat, and those are bigger and tougher to flip. As the season went on I became better.”
Been actually competed in some indoor rowing events, and that’s where he started to draw interest from schools back in the United States. Indoor competitions are done on erg machines. Ergometer tests are used by rowing coaches to evaluate rowers. During a test, a time is set and the rower will try to clock the fastest time possible. The tests are a measure of the rower’s fitness. Been’s numbers were strong.
“By the end of that first season, I was the fastest, including guys on the varsity there,” he said. “I stayed in Toronto so I could row on the water. Washington and Cal-Berkeley were coming out to watch me race because they had heard how fast I was on the erg machine. Schools were offering money to come row for them.
“I figured if I was getting offers from these (top) schools, I’d reach out to others and see what they said. The rowing program in Toronto wasn’t the best. The head coach quit. The really good coach that I had quit because he didn’t get along with the head coach. I wrote letters to schools introducing myself and that I was willing to transfer to their school. I had to sell myself.”
That is how Been attracted the interest of Cornell heavyweight coach Todd Kennett, who looked at his machine numbers and was immediately sold.
“His numbers were off the chart,” Kennett said. “Terek is a big, strong kid. The machine measures how tough you are and how strong you are. The numbers were phenomenal. I was excited to get him. I can teach technique.”
After taking a visit to Ithaca and touring the campus for a couple of days, Been was sold on both the school and the program. He left for Florida on Saturday to attend an 11-day camp with the rest of his new Cornell teammates.
“Rowing is a bigger thing back East,” Been said. “For me, it came down to academics and a good rowing program. I took a tour of the Cal campus, and didn’t like the guys on the team. I couldn’t see myself fitting in there. At Washington, I had a difficult time communicating with the coaches.
“Cornell is always in the top 10. Canada rows in the fall and the U.S. schools row in the spring, so I get two seasons which is lucky for me. We won’t get on the water in New York until it gets warmer. I met a couple of guys there on my trip, but I don’t remember their names.”
That isn’t surprising, according to Kennett.
“An official visit is only 48 hours,” Kennett said. “There is a lot to take in. Terek is a quiet young man, and I pulled him aside a couple of times on his visit so I could ask what he was thinking.”
Kennett said he plans to give Been a chance at the top couple of boats.
“I have guys that have rowed for the U-23 national team, and I will put them with Terek and see how he does,” Kennett said. “We do some training in 4-man boats, but almost all the competition is done in 8-man boats.
“He is more of a third or fourth-set guy. Those two spots are usually for guys that are strong and don’t have to worry about technique as much.”
Been believes he’s fit enough to make it into the top varsity boat, and Kennett said he will know by the end of the Florida trip where Been fits in.
An advantage for Been is he’s only a sophomore, and has 2-plus years to get into the top boat.
Been admits he misses baseball, but that rowing has become his passion.