Genetics plays a huge role in what kind of physique, height or talent an athlete will have. In the professional ranks, we have seen Ken Griffey, Sr. and Ken Griffey, Jr. not only both play in the majors, but play on the same team; Joe Bryant teach his son, Kobe, how to perfect the sport of basketball; and Tiger Woods learn the discipline of the game from his father.
But not many athletes can say both of their parents were Olympians. Texas rower Sydney Boyes can, and she has leaned in part on her Olympic heritage to help the rowing team to its third-straight Big 12 title.
After witnessing her dad win a silver medal in the 1996 Summer Olympics, Boyes knew rowing would play a huge role in her life from an early age.
“I remember watching a few races on top of my mom’s shoulders and the atmosphere was so cool,” Boyes said. “It definitely had an impact on me.”
Surprisingly, Boyes wasn’t expected to carry on the family legacy her parents had set.
“Everyone asks if I row because my parents rowed,” Boyes said. “My older brother never rowed and my parents have never put any pressure on me. I’ve always done other sports too.”
Boyes was even captain of her high school volleyball team, and grew up competing in gymnastics, basketball, track and basically whatever sport came next on the calendar.
Her mother, Kathy Boyes, was a member of the Canadian National Team for a decade and led Canada to a fourth-place finish in the women’s eights in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Kathy and her father, David, were Sydney’s primary coaches growing up and were not going to let anything slide just because she was their daughter.
“As a coach, you have to be harder on your own kids so it doesn’t look like they’re being favored,” David Boyes said. “She has always made it into the boat and in a way that was dominant. There was no question.”
“They’re amazing coaches, and that’s probably why I’ve been doing so well, because they’re coaching me and they’ve been through it themselves,” Sydney Boyes said. “On the water or during practices, I always treat them as my coaches instead of my parents.”
Coached by her mother and father throughout high school, Boyes was one of the most accomplished rowers in her hometown of St. Catharine’s, as well as all of Canada. Boyes won gold at three straight Canadian Indoor Championships, and won four gold medals at the 2010 Royal Canadian Henley alongside current Texas senior captain Jennifer VanderMaarel.
“Sydney is an accomplished young athlete,” said Texas head coach Carie Graves. “Her commitment and determination [are] great assets for our team.”
Only a freshman, Boyes has excelled in her first year and risen to row in the top varsity eight boat.
“This season is our best season to date,” Boyes said. “Our team has grown tremendously and we’re all crazy in the fact that we don’t give up and push ourselves.”
Although she admits that the 2012 Summer Olympics would be a little too ambitious, competing in the Olympics is definitely her top goal, but one that she knows her parents wouldn’t mind either way.
“My parents are extremely supportive of whatever I do, so it wouldn’t really matter if I make it or don’t make it,” Boyes said. “The Olympics has been a huge part of what I want to work towards.”