It’s not often that a Div. III athlete gets selected to represent their country on an international stage. However, that is exactly what happened in the case of graduating senior and co-captain Andrew MacMillen of the Tufts men’s crew team.
MacMillen, or “AMac” as his friends and teammates call him, was selected to USRowing’s initial roster for the 2018 World University Rowing Championship in Shanghai, China. The current roster includes only a handful of representatives from Div. III, and MacMillen was the only one on the initial roster.
“Being the first Div. III athlete to be named to the squad is really gratifying,” MacMillen said. “Being selected for a national team like that, just by itself, is a huge honor. It’s been an ambition of mine for a long time.”
MacMillen will be sculling in the championship, meaning he’ll be racing as a single rower rather than in a four- or eight-person boat. The Tufts crew team had not competed in sculling events until the fall of 2015, but MacMillen became proficient at it very quickly.
The Hillsborough, Calif. native has been a member of the crew team for all four of his years at Tufts. Prior to arriving in Medford, MacMillen competed in club rowing during his years at the Crystal Springs Uplands School. During his high school rowing career, he placed second at the 2014 Youth Nationals and took fourth place at the same event in 2013.
To finish off his collegiate rowing career at Tufts, MacMillen traveled with the team to Worcester, Mass. for both the New England Rowing Championships on May 5 and the National Invitational Rowing Championships on May 11.
MacMillen rowed with the first varsity eight at the New England championship regatta, setting a goal for himself and his teammates to qualify for the grand final. His boat did just that, though the Jumbos finished the race outside the top five with a time of 6:13.2, about 15 seconds behind the first-place Bates Bobcats.
As he looks back on his years at Tufts, MacMillen noted how much his coaches and teammates have contributed to his personal development during his time here.
“[They’ve helped me grow] in many different ways,” MacMillen said. “From being a leader, [to] a captain of the team and as a person.”
He also learned to view the sport of rowing with a new perspective during his time with the Jumbos, in large part to the inclusive culture of coach Noel Wanner’s team.
“I’ve been [rowing] since my [first] year of high school,” MacMillen said. “So when I first came here, I was very rigid about the way that I thought rowing worked. I realized that rowing is really the only varsity sport that embraces walk-ons with no prior experience.”
The soon-to-be-graduate pointed out that several members of the team who had never rowed before coming to Tufts were part of the team’s first boat at this year’s championship meets. Even as a veteran rower, MacMillen appreciates the continual opportunities offered by the sport.
MacMillen took his opportunity and ran with it during his time at Tufts. He was a key member of the team for four years, earning the role of captain during his junior year and carrying it into to his senior season. To top it all off, his efforts earned him a spot on the U.S. national team. Rowing for his country in Shanghai will certainly be a special moment for one of the Class of 2018’s most talented athletes.