From Coxswain's Seat to Announcer's Booth

Sports

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY JUL 17, 2017

When David Wyant’s grandmother first drove him to a Sarasota Scullers practice, the Sarasota teenager brought little interest in joining crew. “She basically forced me to go,” Wyant recalls. Weighing about 100 pounds entering his sophomore year in high school, he couldn’t imaging rowing vessels thousands of meters. But when coaches quickly figured that an athlete his size could make a perfect coxswain, helping navigate and steer the vessels, he soon found his space on the boat.

He would ultimately continue with the sport through high school and college, and nearly 20 years later, Wyant, now an attorney at Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, prepares to bring his love of the sport to a microphone at Nathan Benderson Park, where he will serve as one of the announcers for the World Rowing Championships from Sept. 24-Oct. 1.

It won’t be the first time the attorney calls a rowing event. He’s announced for such events as the Florida State Championships at the Sarasota venue, ultimately working about five events per year for the past six years. Nothing compares to Worlds though. “Absent the Olympics, this is the top level of rowing,” he says. “It’s the most important regatta I’ve ever announced. It’s cliche, but it’s kind of a dream come true.” 

And as a Sarasota native who's loved the sport since 1998, well before officials envisioned the potential of turning the bottom part near Interstate-75 into the most celebrated rowing course in North America, he’s been excited to see his hometown become the epicenter of rowing. During his days as a coxswain for Wesleyan University in Connecticut, he got to compete at the most celebrated of venues in the US at the time, and none of those offered the same experience to both athletes and spectators that Nathan Benderson Park provides, he says. He’s seen major courses in Mercer, New Jersey, Worchester, Massachusetts and Sacramento, CA, but all have drawbacks in fairness for crews and in viewing ability for anybody that wants to watch more than the last 300 meters of the race.

The relatively young venue in Sarasota helped bring the World Rowing Championships to the US for the first time in 23 years. That’s exciting, but Wyant also likes being involved with the sport at a much more amateur level. He still volunteers as a coach occasionally for Sarasota Crew, offering advice to budding coxswains. “I feel lucky this is in my hometown,” he says. "It cements that there’s no other place I would rather ever be.”

Photos: Wyant with Wesleyan University in '05; Wyant with Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick today.

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