My graduating class (2019), had a lot of seniors who were rowing in it. But, of those many, many, seniors, only 4 of us went on to continue in crew. Only four of us? Really? Rowing scholarships happen more often than a lot of other sports because of the fact that teams are so rare, and when you find one, you go. DI, DII or DIII, you're there for a reason -- to row. So, why row in college? Even as a non-rower right now, who's to say the sport won't be for you in the fall? Truth is, plenty of athletes end up joining the crew team. My team consists of former soccer players, cross country stars and couch potatoes. There's a place for everyone.
So, why do rowers continue to row in college? There are plenty of reasons, but for the most part, it's all about the team. You're staying a part of a group of athletes who work hard to get you across the finish line. It's the most selfless form of teamwork known to man. It's the epitome of greatness, to finish a 2000 meter race with 4 or 8 of your closest friends knowing that each of you pulled your hardest, that the training you did in the previous months had purpose, that you woke up every morning at 5:30 am for a reason and that this was never about you, but about making that boat go faster.
Rising freshman at the University of Rochester, Maggie Perry, states,
"You get sucked into it and even the bad parts seem good. The thrill of winning, the bonds you make with your teammates, that's what makes rowing so great."
She started her freshman year of high school, and has, since then, become 2nd in the state, along with participating in SRAA Nationals, which she will be doing for the second time this year in Ohio in the Lightweight 8+. "It's being able to do something that seems so rare to so many people," she continues.
Rising freshman at Lehigh University, Zack Limmiatis, says something similar, "Rowing takes a lot of control and power, which makes it difficult, but it's why I like it." He paused when talking to me, but continued,
"But, at the end of the day, you're not rowing for you. You're rowing for that boat, your coach, your team. It's all about getting to that finish line fast and feeling confident in a piece, no matter how you placed."
He went to SRAA Nationals as a sophomore, as a spare, but went last year and will be going this year again in the Senior 8+ category.
So, no, the sport isn't for the light hearted. It's most definitely not for the weak either. Waking up at 5:30 every morning, it's hard. But pulling yourself across the finish line after a total of seven minutes, that's when you know that every inch on that water was worth it.
If you've never tried rowing, June 15th is National Learn to Row Day. If you're close to a boathouse, ask around! Show up, learn a thing or two. You just might find out that rowing really is meant for you. Trust me, once you start, you won't be able to give it up. I've tried.
Lead Image Credit: Jade Miller