Don’t Sleep on Them: The Crew Team and the GDS Rowing Program’s Future

There are some stories about Georgetown Day School (GDS) athletics that the school hears about all the time: the women’s varsity soccer team’s season of undefeated league play, Ziyah Holman’s victories in track and field, and the women’s varsity softball team’s recent Independent School League championship title. Beyond the popular teams, there’s the crew team, which endures exhausting practices that take place before the sun rises, yet remains untriumphant in most competitions.

Through spending early mornings together every day, the crew team becomes notoriously close. Alyssa West, a freshman on the crew team, compared the team’s culture to the cross country and winter track teams, yet she thinks that the crew team’s bond runs even deeper. She explained, “crew is really tight knit because we wake up early to work out together and we spend our Saturdays and our Friday nights together. And it’s just a really great program with really great people.”  

While there’s no disputing that the crew team has fun together, they do not have a history of successful seasons. However, their disappointing seasons can largely be attributed to a relatively small team. Most leading crew teams in the area have enough people and money to fill multiple boats, but GDS is left behind with only four boats and a limited number of rowers. Sophie Tucker, a junior and a captain of the team, thinks a bigger team would lead to more money, more support, and more success. She plans to “make a video and, hopefully, show it at an assembly in the fall to try to get people who are already [at the GDS High School to join]. And then we’re going to go to the middle school to try to get some younger people involved as well.”

Elias Finkelstein, a sophomore on the team, agrees that growing the crew program is necessary for creating future success. Finkelstein says a main problem is the lack of knowledge surrounding the fundamentals of the sport. “A lot of people don’t know what crew is and what it’s about,” he said, “A lot of people just hear you’re on the water; most people just think it’s like canoeing. Really, we just need to let people know what it is.” Tucker agreed, but she also linked disinterest in the sport to its expensive nature. She said, “the boats are very expensive. The gear and the equipment you need to have is very specialized, and it’s expensive.” GDS rowers pay around $600 at the beginning of the season. Camp Bob over spring break costs hundreds more dollars. Travelling to Stotesbury Cup Regatta costs $250. Plus, even their varsity jackets are costly, priced at $80 each. Arguably the most expensive sport at GDS, the sport’s price tag harms its popularity.

Although it may take years to draft a larger team, the team’s future is bright. While there are only three juniors on the team, the class of 2020 fills the team’s empty varsity spots. Calling the team “small” is a bit of an understatement; there are no junior boys and only two freshman boys rowing this season. However, Nathaniel Rosenberg, a sophomore on the team, sees hope in his grade and their ability to carry the team forward. Rosenberg explained, “I think that we are the future of this team, and we are the potential for the next three years. I think it’s very important that every day and every week and every regatta, we maximize the time we have, because we have an exceptional amount of time leading this program.” He added, “It’s up to us to make sure it’s viable, to take charge, start to step into leadership roles, and try to recruit as many people as we can for the next three years. I think that that’s our role: to start to become leaders earlier than most classes normally would.” Rosenberg’s determination demonstrates his grade’s readiness to make the GDS crew team a force to be reckoned with. The crew team’s underclassmen know what their future could hold, and they are going to do all they can to bring home some victories, big or small. Watch out, DC rowers.
By Abby Murphy’20