Welcome to the wonderful world of rowing, or “crew” as its crazed participants like to call it. No longer will you fail to answer correctly when someone asks you the famous trivia sports question: “In what sport do the participants cross the finish line while sitting down and going backwards?”
A Short History of Crew as a Sport
Rowing as a team sport developed in the 1800’s, notably at Oxford and Cambridge in England and at Yale and Harvard in the United States. The Harvard/Yale race, first held in 1852, is the oldest inter-collegiate athletic event in America. The first amateur sports association in this country was a rowing organization — Philadelphia’s Schuylkill Navy, in 1858 — and the first national governing body for a sport in America was the National Association for Amateur Oarsmen, founded in 1872.
What Crew Means for its Team Members
There are no “stars” on a successful crew. Winning or not is the result of everyone working together or failing to do so. Commitment to something larger than yourself leads to personal growth. Rowing for East Grand Rapids is a commitment to the team as a whole and during your time at the boathouse you will learn about rowing, as well as many important life skills.
Some rowers find pleasure in the coordinated and smooth movement of the boat through the water. Other athletes find that competition is necessary, with individual rowers transcending their own limitations in order to support the crew. For many, the feeling of comradeship that develops within a team that has trained so hard in practices together is a major selling point.
What Crew Means for the Parents
Crew means you’ll have a son or daughter who is physically fit and self-disciplined. They will probably have higher grades than if they did not participate in such a challenging sport. Athletes learn to set goals, budget their time, and expect more of themselves. They will certainly have an unusual and attractive activity to list on their resumes. They will be associating with a very fine peer group that will teach them an enormous amount about teamwork and their own capacity to strive and achieve excellence. The opportunities for collegiate rowing and scholarships are tremendous.
For nearly all rowers, however, the mystical feeling of “swing” seems to be the major reward of crew. Whether winning or losing a race, or even just in a practice session, when everyone is rowing together in perfectly synchronized timing, and the boat is balanced properly and just gliding through the water, individual rowers can lose themselves in the perfection of the moment. These few moments are enough to justify the hours of practice and the physical exhaustion needed to create them. It is a beautiful thing.
“…they were, in fact, a poem of motion, a symphony of swinging blades.” –Daniel James Brown, The Boys in the Boat.