Issac Mingus, 14, was never able to play a sport such as baseball, basketball or football as a young child. Born prematurely, Mingus had to have an IV shunt placed in his head, which prevented him from participating in contact sports. Life changed for Mingus, when his family saw an advertisement looking for kids to join the Sarasota Scullers. Mingus has been involved with the Scullers since the sixth grade and has been rowing competitively for the last two years. He and the rest of the Scullers will compete in the third annual Sarasota Invitational Rowing Regatta this weekend at Nathan Benderson Park.
How did you get into rowing?
I needed a sport kind of badly. I was really unfit, and we saw an ad in the paper. I showed up and met coach Alex (Dragos Alexander) and signed up.
What is a typical practice like?
I am in the Freshman 8, so usually we practice together, but I don’t always row with the same group. Sometimes, I row with the varsity, sometimes I am in a girls’ boat, because they need another person.
Can you talk a little about getting gold recently?
It was a novice regatta in Orlando hosted by Lake Brantley. I rowed with the Freshman 8, and it was a good race. We got out and started that race at 36 strokes per minute — that is fast! We were edge and edge with another boat the whole time, and I couldn’t even tell if they had won or we had won.
Have you learned anything about yourself from being involved with the Scullers?
Over the years I’ve realized that I do love to talk to people and interacting with others. I thought I didn’t. I thought I liked the solitary life with cats or something. I like all the friends I meet through crew.
Do your parents come out and support you?
My dad has Lou Gehrig’s disease and is pretty much immobile. ALS is a tricky situation but they love to see me race when they can. When I come home from races I always get hugs and “good jobs.” They will be coming out this Saturday to see me race in the Sarasota Invitational, and they got me into it in the first place and have kept me going.
Do you hope to continue this sport in college?
I think I will try to row in college, and if I stop competing, I will buy myself a boat and keep rowing. Being out on the water when that boat is moving full speed, it is like you are flying. I’m not going to drop it.
Do you have a favorite memory?
This sport has taken me all over the place. In November of last year, I got to go back to my hometown, Chattanooga, Tenn., and I got to see my old friends and race on hometown water.
What do you keep yourself going?
If you keep training, you are going to do well, anyway. A medal is nice, but at the end of the day, I have had races where I have given my all and didn’t have a medal, and that was fine by me. You are never truly alone out there, even in a one-man boat, people are rooting for you onshore.