Student Spotlight: Evan Williams

Today’s featured student is a top rower from Takapuna Grammar School – Evan Williams. Evan won the under 18 single sculls at both the College Sport Auckland Head of Harbour Regatta and the North Island Secondary School Championships earlier this year, and although school rowing season was cut short with the cancellation of MAADI Cup, he’s kept up his rigorous training schedule at home. We caught up with Evan to find out how he’s staying motivated, who he looks up to, and who has helped him along the way.


How did you get into rowing?

My mum got me into rowing at intermediate when I was looking for a summer sport.


What has been your favourite sporting moment over the last year?

The most recent moment was at the North Island Secondary Schools regatta in March, winning the under 18 single sculls. It was more for the meaning of the event because my coach Eric Verdonk was unwell so he was unable to attend, and winning the event was a tribute to him. I presented him with his medal in hospital and got a real sense of enjoyment out of it.


What motivates you?

The sense of achievement from weeks of training and dedicating time, effort and commitment towards my goals. I also get a hit out of the physical aspect of being fit and in shape which is something I think is important.


Who are your sporting role models and why?

In sport I look up to many inspirational figures such as Mohammad Ali, Arnold Schwarzenegger and the kiwi pair consisting of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond. These athletes embody what I value – work ethic and finding out what your passion is in life. I aspire to be like them.


How have you been keeping active through lockdown?

I’ve been training at least once a day, with most days having two training sessions. This has been done with a rowing machine, my bike and weights. I’ve also been reading a bit to keep my brain occupied. Mostly trying to do tasks around the house like cleaning to keep myself busy whilst trying to do school work.


What are you most looking forward to as we move down the COVID-19 Alert Levels?

Being able to get back on water to row since we are not allowed to do that until Level 2, and also having someone to train with because it gets quite lonely. Also being able to see my older sister and friends.


Anything else to add?

I would just like to thank Takapuna Grammar School Rowing Club and Paula Halliday for her support. Also I would like to say thank you to Eric Verdonk, my late rowing coach for everything he did for me.


If you’d like to nominate a student athlete or student coach/official to be featured, please email with their full name, school, and why you’re nominating them.