Friday night lights illuminate the high school experience of most Texas students. But for Victoria Bell and Jack Davis, high school has consisted of waking up before dawn, brutal exercise and disciplined teamwork. The two row for Dallas United Crew, representing the neighborhood and the city all in one.
Bell and Davis have been rowing competitively together since ninth grade. Though they’ve never rowed in the same boat, they have formed a relationship outside of the sport. In 2023, their term as teammates will come to an end.
“Coming into senior year, it’s sort of the last dance of all of it,” Davis says.
They’ll be going into their last dance with a fair share of momentum. At last year’s Spring National Championships, Bell’s boat finished eighth in the nation for girls, with Davis finishing in the top 20 for boys.
Despite the accomplishments, the two still find it difficult to explain their athletic niche when it’s not attached to a high school program.
“It definitely gives you something to talk about, because no one knows what it is,” Bell says. “I feel like it makes me unique.”
Much of youth sports is tied to the school. For Bell and Davis, rowing’s detachment was seen as a plus.
“It was nice having something out of school,” Bell says. “I got to meet so many different people from different schools. We’re a club, so it’s a bunch of schools together.”
The smorgasbord of high school athletes brought together by Dallas United is put to the test every single morning. Rowing is a team sport, with eight people packed into one boat together, striving to work perfectly in tandem.
“It’s just not like any other traditional sport,” Davis says. “It’s more of you just working with your team to get as much out of yourself as possible.”
While the pair have spent their high school years in sync, college may bring about change. According to NCSA, a college athletics recruiting program, there are over 150 women’s collegiate rowing programs across the country. For men, there are only 39. Ideally, both would love to continue their rowing careers in college, though that dream will be difficult to achieve.
Through visiting schools, meeting with coaches and planning out their future, the reality of their final season isn’t lost on Bell and Davis. This is their last chance to row for the same team. They’re home in Dallas, with their families and friends they’ve made over four years in the sport.
“We’ve come so far from where we started,” Bell says. “The relationships I’ve made would not have been made anywhere else. It’ll definitely be emotional.”