Emmett Patterson commits to Cornell

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Photo by Alix Patterson

Evan Vieth

Emmett Patterson, Wilson crew captain, will continue his academic and crew career at Cornell University. The national champion and starboard rower announced his commitment on November 27th.

Patterson originally began rowing his freshman year of high school, rowing in the Wilson Freshman Novice boat. By sophomore year, Patterson was rowing in the top boat and was well on his way to a national championship run. 

Patterson credits his coach, Joe McMullin, greatly for his success as a rower, specifically in between freshman and sophomore year. “[Coach Joe] flipped a switch in me,” Patterson said. “He changed something that made it so that I coached myself and became stronger as a person and a rower.” Since that change, Patterson, under coach McMullin, has gone on to win a national championship as well as having the opportunity to captain alongside fellow senior rower Griffin Beronio.

Much like many Wilson sports teams, crew has had to make immense changes due to COVID-19. “Something that really changed this year was that our coach put much more responsibility on us,” Patterson said. “We organized individual captains practices as well as intramural squad practices.” The pandemic has challenged the team mostly because of restrictions, such as not being able to row in large team boats or compete against other teams, but Patterson believes that it has helped expand his role as captain to become closer to the team.

Though Patterson has seen great success in his time at Wilson, applying to college was not an easy task. “It’s really hard to get recruited for lightweight rowing because only Ivy Leagues, [the] Navy, and a few more programs [accept students],” Patterson said in regards to his application process. Because of the pandemic, many rowers from the Class of 2020 deferred, resulting in fewer spots on already competitive teams. For about two months Patterson did not anticipate receiving a scholarship, until Cornell Coach Todd Kennett gave him a call. “He dropped the offer and I didn’t expect it at all,” Patterson explained. 

Not only is Cornell a fantastic academic school that encourages its players to do well in the classroom, but it’s also one of the best crew teams in the country. Cornell men’s rowing has won eight national championships in the past ten years, and Patterson is hoping for four more. He also noted that he is most excited to improve in college, “There’s only so much you can do at a high school level but at college, you have all the resources available to you.” 

Patterson’s crew journey may have only started his freshman year, but rowing is in his blood. His mother, Alex Patterson, was a rower at Walt Whitman High School before rowing for the University of Michigan. She went on to coach at Michigan and for other local DC teams. Patterson credits his mother with getting him into rowing and for helping him succeed 

Though Patterson’s original goal wasn’t to get recruited to row, he worked his way up to a national championship and a future Cornell rowing career. Patterson’s leadership skills acquired as a Tiger will be sure to translate to his future as a Bear. “I’m super excited to be in an environment that pushes you to succeed.”