College Crew Team Works Towards Bright Prospects
By Brian Smith '12, Staff Writer
For many people, the sport of rowing is a bit of a mystery. People will often use the ergometer (rowing machine) in the fitness center or walk past the Crew team’s erg room by the weight room, but beyond that, Crew seems to be an unknown entity on campus.

However, Crew has opened its season strongly in their first two regattas. The first race this year was at home against Franklin Pierce College and Massachusetts Maritime Academy on Saturday, March 27. Overall, it was a successful afternoon for the team, as the Men’s Novice 4 boat and the Men’s 2nd Varsity boats put up good showings. In their regatta last weekend at Clark University against Franklin Pierce, WPI and Connecticut College, the first varsity boats swept the competition in both men’s and women’s.

Crew hopes to build off of this initial success with a solid core of returning varsity and novice rowers, as well as returning coxswains. With a very large team, it can be difficult to accommodate new rowers. New boat lineups can take time to get used to, especially when some rowers are more experienced.

“The biggest challenge this season will be adjusting to new line-ups after years in similar configurations,” said Evan Peters ’10. “We are up to that challenge, as there is a lot of depth. This is the largest men’s team I have seen in my rowing career here … this is a huge increase from when the men’s team had 12 members in the spring of 2007.”

Inexperienced novice rowers are not allowed on the water until they learn how to row on an erg, due to the possibility of tipping over the boat. However, despite the influx of new rowers, they have far surpassed expectations thus far.

“I would say this is one of the best starts of the season we have ever had,” said Kate Ward ’10. “Boats have good and bad rows, but crews really seem to be working together and getting out the kinks.”

While many students left Amherst for spring break, the Crew team stayed to prepare for the upcoming season. Complete with two-a-day practices and workouts, the break helped the team get back up to speed after spending three months off the water.

“I think we made huge improvements over spring break,” Nate Hopkin ’10 said. “By the end of break I noticed a difference in how well boats were starting to row together, and how much better and more quickly everyone was at correcting technique.”

Head coach Bill Stekl and assistant coaches Dave Thomas and Jordan Brower ’07 have been working with the team diligently over the years, and their continuing presence has helped the team become very successful.

“Our program is what I call a ‘grassroots’ rowing team,” stated Stekl. “This means that almost all of our athletes found the sport of rowing while at Amherst College. We welcome everyone, and have a system in place to develop all of these individuals to become rowing athletes and coxswains.”

Although most rowers begin their Amherst careers with little to no experience, Stekl said they somehow find a way to beat out the competition on a regular basis.

“It just so happens that in the end, we always create a winning team,” said Stekl. “We train extremely hard, row in all kinds of bad weather and race in the most competitive region in the country. Our record of New England Championship medals, New England Championship point trophies and National Invitational Regatta champions are testimony that Amherst College attracts individuals who are ideally suited to excel in our program.”

Many crew members are excited for the upcoming season as they hope to equal and perhaps surpass past victories. “Looking to the future, we are hoping to really make a good showing at this year’s New England Championships, which are in May and host competitive teams from all around New England,” said Jesse Jokinen ’10. “We have done quite well in past years, winning medals and the overall points trophy, and we are working towards taking home not only more boat medals, but the points trophy as well again this year.”

The team will again be at home on April 10 for the Big Three Regatta versus Bowdoin and Middlebury. Hopkin hopes that his fellow students will come out and support the team.

“The boathouse isn’t that far,” he said. “On a nice spring day it would be a great place to hang out and watch one of our home races.”

Issue 21, Submitted 2010-04-07 11:27:27