During the early days of his rowing career, Tyler Nase watched the movie Gladiator to get pumped up for competition.
“I used to do that a lot in high school,” said Nase, referring to viewing the Academy Award-winning epic as part of his pre-race routine. “We watched it as freshman 8 and we won our first race so it became a superstition.”
Utilizing a Gladiator-like mentality, Nase, a Phoenixville, Pa. native and star for the LaSalle College High School crew program, earned a spot in the U.S. junior national program.
“At the beginning of my junior year of high school, I did well in the indoor world championships, an ERG competition,” said Nase.
“I got invited to the national identification camp and then I made the training camp. We got a bronze medal; it was my first taste of international competition. I decided that I wanted to make the Olympics. It showed me how to train.”
This weekend, Nase, now a senior captain and star for the Princeton University men’s lightweight crew, will be going after another medal as the Tigers compete in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta slated for May 31-June 2 on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif.
Nase is looking to pass on his training mentality as he helps guide an inexperienced Princeton varsity eight.
“Being such a young team, I want to be really approachable and have them comfortable talking to me,” said Nase. “I like to talk less and do more. It is a sport where you get better on what you put out. I want to give them a glimpse of that.”
In his first two years with the Tiger lightweight program, Nase got a first-hand glimpse of what it takes to reach a higher level.
“I loved being in the freshman boat,” said Nase. “We had a good coach Glenn Ochal, he was training and competing internationally at the time and that was a great inspiration for us. It was the next step of training. In high school, I was aggressive and rough. I learned that you needed harmony with the stroke. It was great rowing with the seniors the next year. They showed what kind of framework you need to be really successful.”
Nase has continued to enjoy success on the national level, helping the U.S. lightweight 4 place seventh in the U-23 World Championships last July.
“I was on the team the previous summer so I had more experience under my belt for last year,” said Nase.
“We didn’t make the grand final but we won the petit final in a time that would have been second in the grand final so that was bittersweet. There were 20 boats that could win. I think I have become a smarter rower every time I have competed with the national team. I always take a lot from that.”
While Princeton lightweight varsity 8 was disappointed to place fifth at the Eastern Sprints earlier this month, Nase believes the top boat took a lot from that experience.
“The Sprints were pretty tough,” said Nase. “It was amazing to see Dartmouth take third after having lost to Cornell in the regular season. It just shows how tough our league is. I thought we raced really, really hard, we were definitely in it. We have six guys on the boat who never raced varsity before this year. It was a little different than the dual meets.”
The Tigers are hoping for a different result this weekend in Sacramento. “I think we will be better in the IRAs,” maintained Nase.
“I think we need to step back and not get caught up in things. We need to be a little more relaxed and just race better. We need to do a little better in the second half of the race. We were right there at 1,000 meters. I want to leave everything on the water, I don’t want to have any regrets.”
Nase isn’t ready to leave the water any time soon. “The whole Princeton rowing experience has made me the person I am; the coaching, the friendships, and the work,” said Nase.
“I have matured as a rower. I want to continue in the sport. I am going for the senior national team. I am going to Oklahoma City on June 6 to train there. I want to go to the 2016 Olympics and then in 2020.”