Heat Stroke

Olympic rower faces fires through Kilgore academy


“Everybody is just striving to be better.”

Olympic silver medalist Will Crothers found familiar territory in East Texas when he arrived at the Kilgore College Fire Academy this summer.

“[Being a firefighter] follows the values that I’ve been working towards as an athlete, where you’re on a team with highly motivated individuals.”

Crothers is ready for a chance to make a change in the world. A native of Kingston, Ontario, the Canadian started rowing as a freshman in high school. Since then, he has been rowing his way to the top.

“Rowing is a [sport] where you get into it and people start depending on you, and you need to show up, or you are letting someone down, just like in the fire services,” Crothers commented.  

In Crothers’ first round of the Olympic Competition, his nerves got the best of him in the arena:

“We actually had the second slowest time for the event, which is funny because in the end we got the second highest score, getting that silver, but we were so nervous being at the start line and there are six boats across and they call your names, and we’ve drawn the world champions to the previous year’s silver medalist, and we were bronze. I was 25 years old at that point and it took 12 years to get to that point,” Crothers said when talking about his first Olympic experience in 2012. “It was a lot of pressure.”

Despite it the nerves, his team’s hard work paid off at the closing ceremonies.

“[The best memory I had in the Olympics] had to be the look on my parents’ face when we had finished with the media and the ceremony. There is this area called the Kiss and Cry area and your family or people you put on the list to get to that area are waiting over there for you, and I came up with the flowers I got at the podium, which were these different colored roses, and I gave them to my mom, then I put the medal on my dad and just the look on their faces was pretty special,” Crothers said.

Once he finishes at Kilgore Fire Academy, Crothers will focus on training for the 2020 Olympics.

He heard about Kilgore’s fire program on a ride-along in British Columbia.

“That was kinda in the beginning where I got interested in the fire service, then one of the guys I was working with that day gave me the name of Kilgore College,” said Crothers, “it is well respected in British Columbia.”

Crothers lauded the people of Kilgore and the impact they’ve had on him during his stay.

“Right off the bat, in my classes is all great people. Everyone is so nice and super friendly, everyone gets along super well; you get hit with that southern hospitality a little bit and everyone is calling me sir, that throws me for a loop a little bit, but yeah, there are a lot of similarities between here and Canada,” Crothers said. “I’m really happy to be in Kilgore. Everybody is super friendly. The staff here at [Kilgore College] are awesome and helpful. It is highly recommended from someone that has been pursuing excellence for awhile.”

Crothers advises future athletes and goal-seekers to “play lots of sports, make sure you are having fun and seek out the guidance of people that know the sport that you’re interested in pursuing, because without the right people pointing me in the right direction, I wouldn’t have known it was possible for me to be in the Olympics and win a medal. Surround yourself with the right people and pursue with everything you got.”


Special Sections