Camper Profiles

David Lilly


David Lilly is a true blue Craftsbury Camper, usually visiting us a couple of times a year with his Filippi single. David is a psychologist from Freeport , ME who’s been rowing for the past 25 years. In our camper profile, we find out a little more about David

CSC: How did you start rowing? What was your best competitive experience?

I started rowing in high school as the school I attended required every student to participate in sports. The coach at the high school (who was also the admissions director – hmmm, wonder how a 6’5” tall applicant was admitted there…) recognized that my only innate physical talent was height. I realized that other options (baseball, lacrosse, tennis, etc.) seemed to require some form or coordination, which I utterly lacked. Therefore, rowing was the inevitable choice.

I loved it and have continued since then. Although my experience racing has spanned high school, college, national, and international races, by far my favorite race was one with a small college crew in 1987. After high school I had rowed at the Junior National Team selection camp and didn’t enjoy it, finding that selection camps lacked the pervasive sense of trust, cohesion, or mutual respect that I associated so strongly with rowing. I was thinking that I might not row in college but heard that there would be a new coach, Will Scoggins, who had been at Brown and Harvard. I figured it would be interesting to hear what he had to say. It was. He looked out at the rowers with piercing, pale blue eyes and told us that rowing was based on trust, and trust on confidence in one another’s integrity. Needless to say, I was hooked again and the race in 1987 was, to me, the culmination of what Will was trying to teach.

CSC: You have come to the Center several times now. How do you find something new to work on every time?

Ha ha! You must not have watched me sculling! My challenge isn’t to find something to work on, but to narrow my choices from among the many things I want to improve. By nature, I tend to value the excitement of searching and striving for ways of making improvements. I assume that there will always be many things that I need to do that can improve boat speed and enhance that wonderful feeling of the boat moving from one acceleration to the next with each stroke.

CSC: You’re very expressive in your rowing wardrobe, what is your favorite rowing outfit? Do you feel it makes your row better?

You’re very tactful in how you phrase things. I think my rowing wardrobe is “expressive” the same way that the bubonic plague was “inconvenient.” I have no illusions about what I wear helping my rowing. Rather, my belief is that if the aging process means that I have to suffer the indignation of being a dumpy middle aged guy then I’m gonna make everyone around me suffer, too!

CSC: What is your strategy to win the Head of the Hosmer race every year?

Um, strategy?

CSC: How do you feel your profession as a psychologist helps your rowing?

Actually, I find that the lessons of rowing seem to help me in my work as a psychologist. I find rowing to be quite humbling in that it quickly teaches one’s limits. Then it asks us to find ways to go past those limits. The process requires work, perseverance, and simple faith. It seems that this understanding is implicit between people who row, and I believe it is integral to practicing psychology. A coach worth her or his salt will not only have a thorough knowledge of training and technique, but also will understand and respect the strengths of her or his charges and will work closely with them to find a way of doing a bit more or taking another step. Psychology just doesn’t require as good a VO2 max.

CSC: What are your rowing goals in the next year?

Have fun and go faster if possible!