Steve’s Journey to Becoming a World Champion Rower

Growing up, Steve always wanted to be a professional athlete. He thought he would play football in college, but then work and life led him in different directions. As an adult, he continued to dream about pursuing athletics, but pain and injuries in his back, knees, and shoulders kept him from competing at a higher level. After having surgery on both of his shoulders, he discovered that he was able to start doing some of the activities he always wanted to do.

Steve started participating in high intensity group workout classes until knee and back pain led him to seek treatment. He couldn’t run on the treadmill or even do a simple jumping jack without pain. Dr. Nelson said that he shouldn’t be running or doing anything that involved even the slightest impact, and that he needed to modify his workouts. “At the time I was very disappointed, but that led me to discover competitive indoor rowing. After rowing for a few months, my times were really competitive in my division. I was really nervous to tell Dr. Nelson about my new passion because I thought he was going to tell me to stop, but he was very supportive,” said Steve. Under Dr. Nelson’s care, in addition to incorporating stretching and pilates in his training regimen, his back felt great again. “I know I am going to need a knee replacement eventually, but Dr. Nelson said that I wasn’t doing my knee any further damage, as long as I could tolerate the pain.” That was a turning point for Steve and he started to train in earnest with the goal of going to the Paris World Championship in 2020. He finished that season with world rankings in his class 6th in the 500 meter (first in the United States), 12th in the 1000 meter (second in the United States), and 22nd in the 2000 meter (3rd in the United States).

At the Paris World Championships in 2020, Steve was able to win second place in the 500 meter sprint. His second event, the 2000 meter, didn’t go as well. Steve continued to train for the next two years and was able to finally realize his goal in 2022, winning the World Rowing Indoor Championships with the support of his health care team at The Center, his family, and friends. “I have lived out a lifetime dream of competing at the world championship level and have the medals to show for it. It’s a pretty incredible feeling.”