READING Blue Coat School and GB Juniors cox Alex Gass has won a scholarship to study at North Eastern University in Boston.
North Eastern is one of the leading rowing universities in the US and Alex will be on a four-year rowing scholarship starting this September.
He plans to study for a BA and a Masters in economics.
The 17-year-old from Henley, who plans to study for a BA and a Masters in economics, returned earlier this month from the international Munich Regatta, where he won a bronze medal coxing for the GB Juniors.
Last year, he won two golds at the same regatta, as well as two golds and two silvers, also coxing for GB Juniors, at the Coupe de la Jeunesse in Lucerne, Switzerland.
He said: “Rowing for my country has been a real honour and has given me a real sense of achievement.”
Alex was approached by a couple of American universities last year but says he had no hesitation in accepting the offer from North Eastern.
“It’s one of the best in the US,” he added. “I was really impressed with the coaching staff and the whole set-up.”
Sixth-former Alex started rowing in Year 9 at Blue Coat, and almost immediately became a cox.
According to his coach at the time, Jenny Coates: “It’s always a challenge to find good coxes and, since Alex was not the tallest in the year group and quite confident, I asked him how tall his parents were and, when he replied ‘quite short’, we recruited him!” Alex has been a cox ever since, but says he ‘also does a bit of rowing to help my coxing’.
Alex cites Coates as a big influence and said: “She has really helped me out a lot. She’s given me a lot of good advice and she’s always been there for me.”
He has also learned from subsequent coaches, Adam Moffatt and Rob Edmondson, and “spends a lot of time talking about rowing and related stuff” with Blue Coat’s full-time boatman, Tim Liversage.
Another influence has been the British cycling team.
“They taught me about marginal gains, and looking for that tiny bit extra in each aspect of your performance,” Alex said.
North Eastern runs a comprehensive training programme that involves twice- daily work-outs - as well as participation in a large number of regattas.
Coates said: “While I’m sorry to see him go, I’m sure Alex will have a fantastic time in the USA. Maybe we’ll see him representing the country again in 2020.”