Athletes of Kingston: Will Crothers

By Ian MacAlpine

Team Canada rower Will Crothers, of Kingston, got his start in the sport training on the Cataraqui River for the Kingston Rowing Club and Kingston Collegiate and since the age of 14 has excelled at the grueling sport.

Crothers, 31, has an Olympic silver medal to his credit, from the men’s eight at the 2012 London Olympics and a couple of World Cup bronze medals in the men’s four. Crothers won two gold medals at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto as a member of the four and the eight.

In 2016 at the Rio Olympics his men’s four team made the A final but finished sixth.

Crothers said he got into rowing because his brother Daniel had done it and his friends needed a fourth member to round out the team.

“Rowing is one of those sports where if not everybody shows up you can’t go out obviously,” he said from his home in Victoria, B.C. where Team Canada trains. “Once I was roped in I started to really enjoy it and myself and three others guys I was rowing with and our coxswain went undefeated in our novice season and we got a little taste for winning and never looked back.”

Crothers may be a glutton for punishment and enjoys the competition and pain, which comes with giving your all in a race.

“It’s a notoriously difficult sport and painful sport and those elements I enjoy for sure and I think it’s one of the ultimate team sports as well, everybody has to be moving in sync perfectly for it to be a positive experience for you and to win races. Everybody not only has to be perfectly sound but physicially sharp and it’s a special combination of the technical aspect of the sport along with the power,” he said.

“It’s also a bit of a pain contest, I guess I’m a bit of a sucker for pain.”

After competing at the World Cup in 2017 Crothers took a year off as Rowing Canada was going through some changes.

“I thought I was retiring for good,” he said. “I wasn’t sure how much I could contribute to the team anymore.”

He moved to Whistler to live and hit the slopes during the first year after retirement.

“I had a lot of lonely chair rides thinking about rowing and hearing what the guys were doing back in Victoria and I began to really miss it and I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t done with the sport yet,” he said.

He also took firefighters’ training in Texas and once that was completed last July he decided to come back and start training for the national team again. His first World Cup event on his comeback will be in Poland in late June.

Crothers said most likely the Toyko Olympics will be his last and then start his firefighting career.

He said he’ll be back in Kingston late this summer after the last race of the rowing season.

“What’s not to like, I love Kingston, especially Kingston in the summertime is pretty unbeatable if you can get out on the water.”

“I’m always really appreciative of all the support I get from Kingston and all the people there and just a really big thank you to everybody who’s helped me along the way.”

He said the Kingston community has been “super supportive” to Olympic athletes like himself,  fellow rower Rob Gibson, triathlete Simon Whitfield and sailor Danielle Boyd.  “I hope one day be able to give back like the people have done for me.”