5 Reasons to Join the Crew Team


Greg Midcap

Senior Christopher (CJ) Higginbotham, who was accepted to La Salle University with a rowing scholarship, rows a single during a crew race.

Starting during fall of the 2023-2024 school year, the Big Red Crew team will be recruiting new students who are willing to put in hard work to earn top places against the competition on local and national levels.
The school is one of two in the state with a crew team of its own, the other team being Parkersburg South. Crew is a year-round sport with a season for distance races in the fall and sprint races in spring. There is required winter conditioning in January and February before the team can get on the water due to low temperatures and bad weather. Then there are optional but recommended practices during the two-month long winter break before the required conditioning and during summer break. The team accepts students of all skill levels. Anyone can learn how to row and there are many reasons to join the crew team.
1. Part of a team
“It (crew) is a really good team sport, which is something you don’t get in a lot of other sports,” said senior Emily Bond, a five-year rower and varsity member on the crew team. “Usually in other sports you have an individual time, but in crew, there’s less pressure on you individually and you can work as a team.”
Crew is an ultimate team sport. Rowers are less focused on their individual times that they get when they row alone on rowing machines and are much more focused on how they can benefit their team. Being in a boat gives rowers a sense of relying on others that can be hard to gain otherwise. It demands the complete focus of everyone in the boat so rowers can hear and respond to orders as quickly as possible and take part in allowing the boat to run smoothly so they don’t let their teammates down.
Rowers can form strong bonds with the other members of their boats. Boatmates are able to experience the feeling of rowing as one with other people and being able to rely on them to consistently take strokes through the water to power the boat. This reliance on other people leads to lifelong friendships and a group of people close to you that you can depend on.
2. Good exercise
According to Pete Donohoe on hydrow.com, crew is a full-body workout that activates nearly twice the muscle groups that other activities like running and cycling do. “A single stroke on the rowing machine works your quads, hamstrings, glutes, core, arms, and back muscles,” said Donohoe.
Rowing consistently, like rowing daily on rowing machines or on the river, will get anyone into good shape quickly. Just weeks after beginning to row, teammates have noticed a loss of fat, buildup of muscle, and larger lung capacity. The amount of energy used in one Olympic-length (2000 meter) sprint race is comparable to the amount used to play two full basketball games. In crew this energy is expelled in the typical time of six minutes. For high school rowers, the sprint races are 1500 meters long.
Students looking for a difficult sport that will cause them to lose excess weight, have a large buildup of muscle, have a high lung capacity, and make them extremely strong and resilient should look no further than joining the crew team.
3. Scholarships
Crew is seen as one of the most prestigious sports in the world, given that it’s one of the oldest sports still practiced by a wide variety of people and is associated with academia. This is why crew is seen as being a top sport in many Ivy League and other prestigious colleges around the United States and the world, including but not limited to Yale University, Princeton University, University of Washington, Syracuse University, Harvard University and the University of Michigan. Being in crew can earn student athletes a place in colleges with high levels of education because crew is viewed as an academic sport.
Local colleges like Marietta College, which is one of the top rowing schools in the United States, also offer generous scholarships to rowing students, especially female rowers, who have a higher demand in college rowing than male rowers do. A rowing scholarship can be a full ride. Though they are difficult to gain, they can be earned through hard work that anyone can perform and can make the debt of college much lower.
4. Fun
“Crew is arguably one of the best sports ever,” said sophomore Nevaeh Mason, a two-year rower and a junior varsity member on the crew team. “Although it’s hard, it’s rewarding. There’s no better feeling than winning a race with your teammates, especially when it (the race) was a close one. The feeling is exhilarating. Other than the actual racing part, the bus rides to Michigan are the best. The people are great and you can make new friends.”
Crew puts rowers into a new, refreshing atmosphere that stimulates senses while challenging those who participate. The river provides a calming atmosphere, away from the bustle of the city, and rowers can feel a calmness of being alone with just their boatmates in the middle of a city like Pittsburgh. Those who row find that it’s a sport that is never boring and even though the process of taking strokes is the same every time, rowers are always able to look forward to getting back into a boat. It is a feeling of calm and joy unable to otherwise be expressed without entering a boat full of teammates to rely on and row with.
5. New skills and experiences
Crew provides new experiences that most students throughout the country and world are unable to otherwise have in their lives. Being able to drive an entire boat through the water with a small team creates a sense of pride and success for rowers. The calmness of being on the water is unmatched and the feeling of being able to see a river and always wishing to row on it will last a lifetime.
“It (crew) is fun and it gives rowers new skills for now and the future,” said junior Jeremiah Tennant, a two-year rower and junior varsity on the crew team.
Crew makes rowers mentally strong. It allows them to gain the ability to be humble in success and respectful in defeat and to be able to push themselves to greatness through hard work, even if they feel as though they wish to quit, they know how to make themselves keep going.
It develops critical skills like responsibility and time management as well as leadership abilities and multitasking. It takes a high level of responsibility to be able to be a strong member of the team that won’t let boatmates down, as well as being able to prioritize certain tasks that are the most important, such as learning when to work and when to socialize. As new rowers join the crew team, more experienced members take charge every time to help the new members learn to row and what to do to help the team, leading to the development of strong leadership abilities. At races, there are constant tasks to do other than the actual races, such as carrying oars for boats going on the water, unloading and loading the boat trailer, and rigging and derigging the boats.
Rowers also have strong communication skills, punctuality, the physical ability to be on their feet and work for long periods of time, the ability to work better with other people, and reliability.
Anyone who has an interest in crew may join the team at any time. During its seasons, the team meets after school from 4:00 p.m.- 6:30 p.m. every weekday in the Ohio Valley Rowing Club located on the street off the end of 19th Street in Parkersburg. In the weeks leading up to the beginning of a school year, there is a “Learn-to-Row” camp in which experienced members assist participants in understanding the basics of the sport, including an introduction to rowing equipment, learning basic rowing strokes on rowing machines, and learning how to row on water. It is open to all students entering 7th to 12th grades that will last from Aug. 7 to 10 at 4 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. every day. The entry fee into the camp will be $40 per participant.
“It’s a severely underappreciated sport and we need people,” said Mason.