Will Spencer, left, and his brother John at the Stanford University boathouse in nearby Redwood City, California. Photo courtesy of Trey Holterman

Will Spencer, left, and his brother John at the Stanford University boathouse in nearby Redwood City, California. Photo courtesy of Trey Holterman

Redmond brothers rowing and growing at Stanford

Spencers began their journey with the Sammamish Rowing Association.

Redmond’s Spencer brothers get a rush out of rowing, but the duo also grabs onto personal growth with all that comes along with the sport.

Sometimes things go Will and John’s way, and there are instances when the Stanford University varsity athletes have to dig down deep and try to turn a tough situation into a positive experience. One time, they had to deal with snow at the University of Washington Head of the Lake regatta, taking second. Another time, while John competed with the Sammamish Rowing Association (SRA), his team had to bring in a spare rower the night before a race and they made the best of the scenario, finishing 15th nationally.

The Overlake School graduates have shown they can plow through whatever rowing sends their direction.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned is really the ability to work hard under adverse conditions and you overcome challenges, ones that you might expect and ones that you might not expect,” said Will, a Stanford senior, adding that they need to stay mentally locked in to handle the balancing act of school and rowing.

Added John, a Stanford freshman: “In order to have the fastest boat and win the race, you have to collectively pull together, metaphorically and realistically with your oars, so I think that creates a special mentality in the sport of rowing.”

Stanford University’s varsity four boat finished eighth at the Head of the Charles regatta in Boston last October. Left to right in the boat, coxswain Sarah Taylor, John Spencer, Will Spencer, John Coffey and Bart Scherpcier. Photo courtesy of Steve Buckley

Stanford University’s varsity four boat finished eighth at the Head of the Charles regatta in Boston last October. Left to right in the boat, coxswain Sarah Taylor, John Spencer, Will Spencer, John Coffey and Bart Scherpcier. Photo courtesy of Steve Buckley

Highlights during the brothers’ season together were finishing eighth in their four boat at the Head of the Charles regatta in Boston last October and, of course, that “crazy” Head of the Lake race at UW, according to John. Their four boat has a few more races on the docket before the Pac 12 championships in mid-May, and they hope to qualify for nationals at the beginning of June.

Following in the footsteps of their father, who rowed for one year at Harvard, the guys switched from basketball (Will) and soccer (John) to the rowing realm with SRA and have never looked back.

This is Will’s fourth year at Stanford and he said it’s been a stellar experience from day one. His teammates and coaches have provided support the whole way, from finishing third at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) nationals his freshman year in the four boat, to competing with the United States U23 national squad and taking first at trials and sixth in the world in Bulgaria, to sharing a boat with his brother and keeping the family tradition alive.

Competing at the Head of the Lake is always a treat because it’s a homecoming for the boys and, according to Will, they get to “enjoy the Pacific Northwest rowing in all its splendor, it’s a very beautiful and special part of the Northwest sporting community and that event really puts it on full display.”

In the classroom, Will majors in mechanical engineering and twice made the all-Pac 12 academic first team and the IRA all-American academic team. He’ll walk in the graduation ceremony in June and finish up next fall. John majors in management science and engineering.

“Will has definitely been a role model for me on how to balance athletics and academics,” John said. “(Stanford) really inspires guys to pursue not just high goals in rowing, also pursue high goals in the classroom.”

John added that the Spencers’ relationship has become even stronger with the pair at Stanford together, and they motivate each other to push harder in and out of their boat.

And it all comes back to the SRA, which is where the boys learned about rowing and life, and they said they’re grateful for all the coaches and teammates who helped them along the way.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@redmond-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.redmond-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Sports

No-show season: WIAA announces cancellation of spring sports, activities

Due to the school closure extension, the cancellation includes all practices, competitions, tournaments and championships, WIAA says.

There’s still hope for spring sports, WIAA announces

Washington Interscholastic Activities Association making contingency plans for high school sports competitions after extension of stay home order.

The WIAA announced Wednesday that if schools reopen at the conclusion of the six-week statewide shutdown ordered last week by Gov. Jay Inslee, then the state championships will go on as planned. (WIAA photo)
WIAA still hoping to hold state championships in May

But if the school shutdown extends past April 24, those championships could be in jeopardy.

Athletic practices and competitions cancelled through April 24 due to coronavirus outbreak

By Andy Nystrom and Benjamin Olson Gov. Jay Inslee announced on March… Continue reading

Redmond Relays set for March 21

The third annual Redmond High School Track and Field Booster Club Redmond… Continue reading

Pluschke hits the diamond as new Redmond High fastpitch coach

Mustangs return seven starters from last season.

Games are being postponed in response to coronavirus outbreak

In response to the recent coronavirus outbreak, Eastside schools are taking precautions… Continue reading

Hardwood Classic tips off after coronavirus outbreak

By Benjamin Olson and Andy Nystrom Basketball players took to the court… Continue reading

Most school events, including sports practices, on schedule after coronavirus outbreak

All the school districts in the Reporter’s coverage areas — Northshore, Lake… Continue reading

Reporter file photo
No changes to state basketball tournament schedules after coronavirus outbreak

State boys and girls basketball Hardwood Classic tournaments in Tacoma, Yakima and… Continue reading

‘We just battle together’

Bear Creek boys basketball team competes at state regionals.

Mustangs earn all-league hoops honors

Redmond’s Aidan Rolfs (pictured at left) was a second-team all-4A KingCo boys… Continue reading