For St. Mary’s Crew, just beginning its spring season with three competitions since February, there is much love and dedication to the team among novice, senior, and in-the-middle rowers.
“The team has definitely evolved since I was a first-year novice,” said senior and club president Andy VanDeusen. “We’ve been gaining boats, coaches, and many new members. We have seen older classes graduate, leave, and come back as often as they can. We have seen people join the club, and then, sadly, quit. What has influenced my view of the change of the club more than how the club itself has changed, is how I have changed in relation to it. Being a novice is very different from being the club president. I remember having older rowers to look up to and aspire to, and it have take care of the club for me. Now, I have to be that older rower. I, and my fellow upper
classmen, are helping take the novices out on the water, coaching them, challenging them, and showing them what it means to be a rower for the SMCM Crew Club.”
Beginning spring meets in February with an Erg-Sprints competition at the College of William and Mary and continuing into March with a dual meet at Washington College, the crew team (including men’s and women’s novice and professional teams) has been active since last semester, preparing for intense meets later in the semester and after graduation on May 12.
“I rowed in the Wye Island regatta last semester, 12.5 miles around Wye Island on the eastern shore,” said junior and president-elect Hannah Coe. “It stands out as one of the best rowing memories I have so far.”
While a club team, St. Mary’s Crew is notorious for its work commitment, beginning practices at 5 a.m. during the competitive season under the guidance of several coaches and senior club members. Though they endure intense workouts and large amounts of blisters, club members seem to always show an unfailing dedication to their fellow teammates.
“We are competitive, spirited, and committed. The people we attract to crew are still outgoing, exciting, and fun,” said senior Raza Ahmad. “The team never loses the positive aspects of the team sport…and even though the coaches have successfully changed us into better, more competitive rowers, there is still a lot that is unchanged.”
The team is designed with a novice component, where beginning rowers (while usually not needing to wake up as early) can learn the ropes under the leadership of more experienced team members. The hope is that after taking an interest in the sport, these team members will progress to the early-rising competitive men’s and women’s teams.
“Prior to coming to St. Mary’s I had never been on a crew team, or even seen a crew boat,” said first-year and secretary-elect Teresa Padgett. “But in the past few months that I’ve been a part of the novice team I have fallen in love with this sport.”
While many of the team members are seniors, love for the sport seems to have disseminated to younger athletes, and all team members strongly encourage newcomers to come out to a practice to see what being on the team is like.
“Weaknesses [for the team] are those who don’t row,” said VanDeusen.
“The crew team [are] not just my teammates,” said Coe, “they are my at-school family, people who are worth getting up at 5 a.m. for!”
Beginning its spring semester season on the right paddle, St. Mary’s Crew will be competing during and after the rest of the semester, preparing in the waters, on the Ergs, and well into the early morning hours.
“I am planning on attending the American Collegiate Rowing Association Championships in Georgia after graduation, and I am sure that this massive regatta will be a very significant memory for me.”