When you first meet Millbury native Josh Konieczny you might not realize he's an athlete. He's soft spoken, reflective and carries himself in such a manner that you might think he's much older than his 21 years.
The truth of the matter is the Dartmouth senior is arguably one of the best lightweight rowers around. The senior captain has helped bring the Big Green into the national spotlight during the course of his career. The lightweights have posted three consecutive top-five finishes and in 2012 took the silver medal at the IRA National Championship, earning them a berth in the prestigious Henley Regatta in England.
Konieczny started rowing at St. John's Jesuit High School. He was inspired to look into the sport because his uncle had participated, so he took a chance and ended up liking it.
|Rower Josh Konieczny. (Photo courtesy of Dartmouth Athletics
A long way from home, Konieczny found himself at Dartmouth for two reasons. One was to continue the Ivy League tradition his father started, while the other was because it was familiar.
"Seventy-five percent of it was not wanting to be out done by my own Dad, who is a Brown alum," Konieczny said. "I knew that I wanted to go Ivy League when it came time for college so that was one factor. The other 25 percent is that I was raised on a farm and Dartmouth is very rural and fits into my background."
Aside from the Ivy League connection, Konieczny is very close to his father and considers him his role model.
"My dad is an American self-made man," Konieczny remarked. "As a kid, he financed his mother's car through a paper route and worked his way up to Brown. He's extremely motivated, works very hard and gets by on his own strength. I look up to that."
Much of that hard work and determination that Josh admires about his father has rubbed off on the younger Konieczny. Josh has set the goal of rowing in the Olympics and is well on his way to accomplishing that objective.
Konieczny earned a spot at the U.S. Rowing Under-23 sweep camp for this upcoming summer. It will serve as the selection camp for the four that will compete at the Under 23 World Championships in Linz, Austria in July. Konieczny has set the goal of making it to the World Championships and will continue to train with former Dartmouth head coach Dan Roock.
Koniecnzy hopes to emulate some of the most successful international rowers in his Olympic quest, and as one might expect, he tries to model himself after those who aren't the most well-known individuals.
"I'm inspired by the successful international rowers," said Konieczny. "They aren't big names, but they are guys that win four Olympic medals in a row. I've seen all their races and started gleaning technical, physiological, and psychological tips from them."
While the Big Green stroke seat is looking forward to taking the next step in his rowing career, he's also thinking about the day he leaves Dartmouth.
"It's a little scary to think about leaving,” said Konieczny. "Trying to figure out plans for the rest of my life, which is not necessarily true when you graduate. It's been interesting. Time winding down doesn't necessarily feel different, aside from the fact that it's more behind you. I'm focusing on doing the most with my time here and finishing out strong."
With rowing in the forefront of his mind, the economics major has also thought about what might make a good profession that could line up with his rowing aspirations.
"The immediate plan is to make it to the Olympics for rowing and following that I'm keeping my options open. I think the profession that lines up with both my athletic and career goals is a consultant, but I'm open to a host of options and ideas."
Konieczny will miss the Connecticut River, the boathouse and the atmosphere at Dartmouth, but most of all he will miss his teammates. As a senior captain this year, he's taken the responsibility of maintaining the progress the team has made over the course of the last four years.
"It's a definite sense of responsibility especially with a different coach. We're trying to maintain the success that we've had in the past," said Konieczny. "You have to accept that it is different and maintain the sense of progress."
Konieczny and his teammates have close relationships outside of the boat and often sit down and have 'heart-to-hearts'.
"I like the ability to talk freely about whatever with my teammates," Konieczny added. "Last year, the ‘12s’ (seniors) were the moral guides. If you were having problems, or wanted to talk about academics or anything, you could always talk and converse with them."
Josh and his teammates have been through a lot together, creating numerous memories and milestones, including the 2012 IRA national championship.
"That was one of the top rowing-related memories that I have here at Dartmouth. It was the most competitive we've been in the past four or five years and even though we lost, we had a good race and that was our potential," Konieczny said. "Going to England for the Henley as a result of our performance was a lot of fun, too."
With his goals set, Konieczny, in his soft spoken voice, also manages to keep all of it in perspective.
"Rowing is the same no matter where you are, so it's just about being as good as possible." Konieczny is more than just good; he's the best he can possibly be. The future is bright for Konieczny both on and off the water.
Josh's recruiting trip to Hanover was made possible by the generosity of Peter M. Fahey (Dartmouth '68) as well as The Honorable Gregory W. Slayton ('81) through the Dartmouth Athletic Sponsor Program.
Dartmouth rower Josh Konieczny. (Photo courtesy of Dartmouth Athletics Communications)