by Heather Colley
Every year, Sleepy Hollow gets excited about the prospects of its various sports teams. Everyone dreams of making it to the “Dome” or the County Center. With few exceptions in recent years, such as track stars Danny Elia, Will Stallings and Gabby Maldonado (who each competed at state level), few actually make it.
However, there is one Sleepy Hollow athlete this year who regularly competes at a national level, competes for the U.S. National Junior team, and finished second last summer at the U.S. National Championships. His name is Spencer Sands. He is an unsung hero of Sleepy Hollow athletics. He is the first Sleepy Hollow student to be accepted to Princeton University in 10 years. And he is a rower.
In fifth grade, Sands took up rowing at a competitive level. His success in the years since is unprecedented. Sands has been a member of the elite rowing squad, Greenwich Crew, since he began rowing, and he was awarded MVP of the team in 2014. When he graduated from Greenwich Crew to join one of the country’s highest ranking crew teams, RowAmerica Rye, his success skyrocketed. In 2015, Spencer won the silver medal at the Youth National Rowing Competition, coming in 0.2 seconds behind the winner.
Sand’s success can be attributed to his hard work and dedication. Crew is a year-round sport. For Sands, there is no off season. He practices every day after school for three hours, plus Saturdays. In the months before national competitions, he also practices from 5:30 to 7 a.m. before school. Remarkably, Sands manages to row daily while maintaining a perfect GPA in school, and a high rank in this year’s graduating class of 2016. Sands had his choice of Ivy League recruitments beginning his junior year of high school, and he has recently announced his decision to attend Princeton University in the fall, where he will be continuing his rowing career for the top ranked college crew team in the country.
“I don’t think anybody does what they do to try and get recognition at a dinner or to win an award. All of us athletes compete because we
love our sports, not because we want attention.”
The final college decision for Spencer was between Cornell University and Princeton University. He attributed his final decision to row at Princeton to Princeton’s amiable and hugely successful crew athletes. Princeton is also credited as having one of the best Computer Science Departments in the country, which Sands plans on studying in college.
While Sands is arguably the most accomplished athlete that Sleepy Hollow has ever produced, his accomplishments have gone largely unnoticed, and he doesn’t mind.
“I don’t think anybody does what they do to try and get recognition at a dinner or to win an award. All of us athletes compete because we love our sports, not because we want attention,” he said.
When I asked Sands how it feels to be one of the most successful student athletes in Sleepy Hollow history, he said, “Wow, is that me? It’s pretty nifty, I guess.”
This spring, Sands will once again be competing for national rowing titles and for a spot on the U.S. National Rowing Team, which will compete in the Netherlands at the World Championships.