Although Jake Zier missed his graduation ceremony, he has still become a legend of sorts among the Orcas Vikings. He did, of course, miss this right of passage for a good cause: Zier was competing at the Rowing Junior Nationals in Florida, in which he took sixth place overall in his single. Since then Zier has gone on to accomplish much more, and it does not seem as if he is planning to slow down anytime soon.
After graduating from Orcas Island High School in 2013, Zier was accepted into the University of Washington, and was recruited onto the acclaimed Husky Crew Team. Since then he has won races against the University of California and taken first place in the Pac-12 championships and IRA national championships in 2014.
These feats have not come easily. Zier began rowing in the spring of his eighth grade year. Surprisingly, the sport did not become central to his life until after he was signed on the Husky team. Zier started to row with Orcas Island Rowing Association mainly because he was “having issues with his knees at the time, and saw it as a good way to cross-train in the off-season of football.” Zier’s older sister Jacqueline Zier had rowed the year before, which encouraged Zier to take up the rigorous sport.
Zier writes that “Orcas Island rowing was a great experience and introduced me to the sport, but I cannot say it totally prepared me for the next level. The camps I did during the summer physically prepared me for UW—as much as they could.” As for school, Zier describes himself as a “dead-average” student for the majority of high school, however he “did put in some extra effort during [his] junior and senior [years] to be admitted to UW.” He recommends being a good student throughout high school in order to make things easier. Reassuringly, Zier maintains that “going to school at OIHS definitely was good preparation for going to school at UW. There is considerably more reading here, but the quality of work some teachers at OIHS demand is on par with college professors.”
Zier doesn’t have any concrete plans for the future, so it’s always possible that, in a similar fashion to how he stumbled upon rowing, he will find something else he excels at. For now, however, he will continue to be referred to as “a freaking bear, I swear to god,” by members of the student populace, such as Devon Mann. It is Zier’s admirable work ethic that has brought him to this point, and his understanding that “it is not your best days that define how good you are, it is your worst days that display how good you are. Consistency is key. In rowing, and, by extension, your everyday life, on your worst day you need to be better than your opponent on his best day.”