Niskayuna rower Chaskin looking to pull his weight

Joins top rowers in country.
Niskayuna rower Noah Chaskin after a June 12, 2015, workout on the Mohawk River.
Niskayuna rower Noah Chaskin after a June 12, 2015, workout on the Mohawk River.

It was about a month ago that Noah Chaskin found out he was going to get the chance to compete for a spot to represent the United States at this year’s World Rowing Junior Championships. That opportunity starts Wednesday for Chaskin when he heads to Pittsburgh to take part in three weeks of workouts with roughly three dozen of the top scholastic rowers.

The time that has passed since Chaskin, a 17-year-old finishing up his junior year at Niskayuna High School, found out he’d landed a spot at the U.S. Rowing Junior National Team’s Selection/High Performance Camp has done little to diminish his excitement.

“These guys are the best in the country,” he said.

Chaskin’s not too shabby, either. He belongs.

This spring, Chaskin joined three of his Niskayuna Rowing teammates — Austin Dobson, Jack Lampman, and Liam McGrinder — in the program’s junior quad that won both a national championship and a race at the prestigious Stotesbury Cup Regatta.

It was on the bus trip to New Jersey for the national championships that Chaskin found out he’d be headed to the high-level camp held at the Three Rivers Rowing Association.

“So, it’s all happened pretty recently,” he said. “I’m really excited.”

Chaskin is a relative latecomer to rowing. He started off as a football player, and did not focus on rowing until his sophomore year. He comes from an athletic family — his father, Adam Chaskin, coached basketball, including six seasons as an assistant for Fran McCaffery at Siena College — but only Noah Chaskin’s great-uncle had ever rowed.

“This was really just to keep me in shape for football,” Chaskin said of why he took up rowing.

Academics are really Chaskin’s focus. After high school, his plan is to head to the United States Naval Academy, while his fallback is to row for one of the colleges whose coaches have been recruiting him — Harvard, Princeton and Yale, to name a few.

It was almost on a lark that Chaskin headed off to take part in one of the tryouts for the camp he’ll be starting Wednesday. He’d heard about a tryout in Boston for the country’s junior team, and decided to give it a go.

“It was just 40 bucks to do it,” he said. “So, I was like, ‘Why not? I’ll take a trip out to Boston.’ ”

When Chaskin gets to Pittsburgh, he will be competing to show he deserves a spot in the country’s top pool of junior rowers. Depending on how they perform, athletes at the camp will be sent to one of four places: Rio de Janeiro for the world championships; Banyoles, Spain to work with the world championships developmental team; Mexico City for the CanAmMex Regatta; or, Bethel, Ohio for club nationals.

The goal, Chaskin said, is to make the cut to head to Brazil. He said he has been told he’s viewed as a “wild card,” and that coaches want to see how a rower his size — 5-foot-11, 160 pounds — meshes with some of the tryout pool’s larger athletes.

“It’s hard to know how I’ll compare to some of these massive guys,” said Chaskin, who will row with 200-pounders. “Obviously, those guys will be pulling hard on the rowing machines — but in the boat, they’ll sink it down more. In rowing, you literally have to pull your weight.”

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