by Alexa Schmidt & Samantha Walla, Asst. A&E Editor & Asst. Production Editor
The Manhattan College men’s rowing team has begun training for their second season following a two-year hiatus.
The team has had a complicated history. It was founded in 1932 as a Division I sport in an attempt to drum up an interest in sports at Manhattan College, particularly football. Despite this, rowing became more popular and football never garnered student interest. During World War II, the team went on a hiatus, and came back in the 1960s. It eventually became a club team in the late 1990s, and has continued since.
Senior history major Vincent Wiedemann joined the rowing team as a freshman in 2015, and talked about functioning as a club.
“A lot of being a club has to do with economic options with the school, and the sport has kind of evolved to the point where a majority of schools aren’t D1,” Wiedemann said. “I know schools like Notre Dame, Duke and Harvard are clubs. I don’t know if Title IX has to do with it, but clubs that aren’t actual colleges are included.”
Additionally, MC was one of the eight schools who actually founded the Dad Vail Regatta, which is the largest intercollegiate regatta in the United States, and which MC has won twice.
During Wiedemann’s sophomore year, however, the team split. Jim Foley, their coach, was moved to coaching the girls’ team, and the boys’ team was prohibited from practicing until last year. The addition of Karla and Mike Ward as coaches has secured the team a considerable amount of funding, largely from the support of alumni.
The team is already preparing for their next season. They practice every day, from 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. in New Rochelle, where they spend late August to mid-November on the water. From November to late February they practice in Draddy gymnasium, and use the ergometers, as well as work on strength and cardio. In the springtime, they go back on the water.
Despite the early mornings, each member enjoys the sport, including sophomore Aidan Gormley, who joined the team last semester.
“I love rowing,” Gormley said. “It makes the 5:00 a.m.’s worth it when you get on the water and you get a good rhythm going and everyone on the boat knows what they’re doing. You really get into the pace of it and the boat starts moving, and that’s the best part.”
Senior and environmental science major, Kieran Schnur agreed.
“I think when you practice with the same guys morning after early morning in the same boat, you suffer together, you move the boat together, you kind of become like brothers, and you kind of spend a lot of time together,” said Schnur.
The rowers’ schedules are pretty much planned out for the day and they follow a similar routine on most days.
“Because you get up in the morning, breakfast, class, afternoon workout, sleep, back to practice, and then if you got good chemistry, it becomes a lifestyle and a little below schoolwork of importance” Schnur said.
While almost every sport is a team sport, rowing is unique in the fact that when one person falters, everyone in the boat can also immediately falter. So when working with one another, the rowers develop a strong sense of team building skills.
“It’s because of the synergy of being able to work with others, and know exactly how they’re going to move, it’s like a shared mindset,” Wiedemann added. “When you’re in the boat, you lose yourself and become a greater thing than an individual.”
“I just want to see how we can do in Dad Vails this year because it’s the biggest collegiate regatta in North America and if we’re able to do well it’s indicative of how well we’ve progressed as a team,” said Wiedemann. “We started very slowly last fall and we definitely did better that spring. We can use that kind of like a marker for the year and see how well we’ve been training the recruits.”
The brotherhood that is fostered between the team members is open to everyone, as no experience is necessary to join. After the student engagement club fair on Sept. 4, the team grew to about 30 people, which they expect to settle at around 20 for the full season. Of all the members, Weidemann is the only one who has rowed for more than one semester at the collegiate level. The majority of the others are new to the sport. Despite the difficulties that come with training large numbers, the team emphasizes that all are welcome.