At five in the morning, when much of the campus still rests in the darkness, the UR Men’s Rowing team begins their day.
With early mornings, intense workouts, and limited opportunities for racing, the UR Men’s Rowing team certainly isn’t for everyone; but for the students who choose to participate, it’s well worth the effort.
“Nothing beats sitting on the dock with eight of your best friends after a hard morning row, watching the sun come up,” said senior Ethan Dimmock. “That never, ever gets old.”
“I wake up because I love the sport,” said junior Daniel Villar. “It also allows me to eat an ungodly amount of food.”
Although the workouts can be taxing, rowing also serves as a mental break for students.
“The sport as a whole is very rewarding both mentally and physically; it’s great to go out on the water and not worry about schoolwork,” freshman Denes Szekeres said.
With the retirement of their past head coach, John Bernfield, the club team has seen their entire coaching staff replaced in the past month. With new Novice and Varsity coaches, expectations have risen for this coming season.
“In the past, we have been able to show that we have potential, but this year I want our rivals Ithaca and RIT to know that we can beat them,” Villar said. The team’s eventual goal is to have a Varsity Heavyweight 8 make the Grand Finals at the American Collegiate Rowing Association (ACRA) Championships.
“I am looking forward to filling the shoes of the outgoing coach,” said Brendan Evans, head coach for the Men’s Rowing team. “I am also excited to see how dedicated the rowers are at reaching our ultimate goal at ACRA’s .”
While the basis of the program will be run the same, “the new coaches are placing a greater emphasis on bringing the entire team up together,” said Dimmock. “Our goal is still to win boat races and our training remains much the same, but our coaches recognize that we need to have more than one fast crew.”
“In the past, there wasn’t clear communication about the workings of the team,” Villar said. “This year, with a new executive board, and a coaching staff that is especially dedicated to the improvement of the team, I expect our team’s organization and management will improve greatly.”
The team also hopes to purchase a new, high-performance racing shell for the spring 2017 season.
Although the Men’s Rowing team has been a part of the University for more than 30 years, it remains a club team—unlike its female varsity counterpart. The men’s team operates at the same level as the Women’s team, and is run very similarly to a varsity program, but is still only funded as a club sport. To the rowers, this is the major difference.
“We have to worry about money and such when the women don’t,” Villar said. “There have been cases of people not being able to row because they cannot afford the sport. Being in this hybrid system gives us more freedom over the NCAA rules, and we don’t pay as much as other rowing clubs do.”
Despite the differences between the men’s and women’s teams, the University has been supportive of their affairs.
“The support the team has from all facets of the University is overwhelming” Evans said. “The use of the team’s state-of-the-art training facility at Brooks Landing and the continued support from alumni, current rowers, and the athletic department will help us reach our goal.”
Because Rochester winters freeze the river, the competition season lasts only a couple months. The bulk of the year is spent training for just a handful of races. Despite the limited opportunities for payoff in this sport, the athletes consistently stand by it.
“Rowing at UR the past three years has been hands-down the most defining experience of my college career,” Dimmock said. “I am enormously proud and humbled by being part of something so much greater than myself, in both a program with over 40 years of tradition to a sport that demands exceeding oneself in the pursuit of a common team goal.”
For those interested in supporting the team, their first racing opportunity will be at Head of the Genesee during Meliora Weekend on Oct. 8. Racing will take place from 9 a.m. until noon, with the Men’s Varsity 8 race scheduled for 11:30.