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Rowing at Grand Valley started 50 years ago when the college first opened its doors.
The Grand Valley State University Rowing Team provides student-athletes with amazing opportunities. The team is over 100 members strong, with men and women, varsity-club, novice and intramural programs. The men and women’s teams train together and compete against the top varsity/collegiate programs in the country. Crew’s club status allows the team to travel internationally on a regular basis; the men and women competed in the Henley Royal Regatta and Women’s Henley Regatta, respectively, in 1996, 1998, 2002, 2004, and 2008 held in England. The men and women’s eights also traveled to Croatia in 2004 to compete against European college crews in the University Race of Eights.
The team receives incredible support and significant funding from the university and the Student Senate. The team owns top of the line equipment, trains off the water at the Rowing Training Center, and rows out of their boathouse on the Allendale campus.
But most importantly, rowers get to have fun and develop the greatest friendships on earth – those forged together through commitment and hard work
We are a club sport in name only. We compete at the highest level of intercollegiate rowing. The time commitment makes this varsity-like in that we generally practice for 2 plus hours a day, both as a group and on your own. Given the commitment that is part of being a rower, know that the “party animal” will struggle to survive.
We are the one of the faster club rowing programs in the country and we routinely defeat many varsity programs (which are often full of students on scholarships). Grand Valley is known for its ability to produce fast crews that regularly make the finals at the Dad Vail Championship and ACRA. In 2008, GVSU produced Dad Vail champions in the Men’s JV eight and Women’s novice eight. The Women’s varsity eight won a silver medal at the Dad Vail as well. The team rode the success to Oklahoma City for the Club National Championships where GVSU took home the 2008 Team National Championship.
Keep in mind that more than 90% of our team has had NO previous rowing experience before joining our team!
In the fall we compete at several Head Races where the teams essentially compete against the clock over a 4-5km course. Practice is on the water for as long as weather permits and is augmented by a cross-training program that is basically done on your own.
In the winter the training becomes more challenging with the preparation for the sprint racing in the spring. The entire year is a development of your rowing skill and fitness, all geared toward the spring 2,000-meter competitions. The winter training period, done mostly on the indoor rowing machines, is a key to making spring racing successful.
During spring break we travel south for training. We have usually gone to either Oak Ridge, TN or Palm Bay, FL. This is an important week where big strides are made preparing the team for competition and is a great team building experience.
In the spring, competitions start in late March and continue on weekends through to Dad Vail championship regatta and ACRA held in Mid to Late-May.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Q: “I have never rowed before. Can I still try this?”
A: Absolutely. More than 90% of our team members have not rowed prior to attending GVSU. Our team’s competitiveness is built almost entirely on the efforts of walk-on athletes. Most of our athletes has some form of athletic background, be it track, swimming, football, basketball, volleyball, or cross country. Many want to participate in the sport because of the benefits of discipline, fitness and teamwork. Anyone who is interested is encouraged to learn the sport.
Q: “When are your practices?”
A: For first year rowers, novices, practices will all be in the afternoon/evening. Different from most rowing programs, there are no morning practices. Even if you have prior rowing experience you will most likely start on the novice team and you may have the opportunity to move up to the varsity team. Practice is mandatory if you wish to remain part of the team.
Practices are at 3:30p-5:30p or 5:30p–7:30p, you can go to whichever practice will better fit your schedule.
Q: “Where are practices held?”
A: All practices are held on campus at either the boathouse or the Rowing training center. The Boathouse, which is located on the bank of the Grand River, can be reached by a short walk down the trail behind freshman housing. The Rowing Training Center or RTC is located across from the main entrance to the GVSU campus next to Hanson and Dyke Automotive. Both the boathouse and RTC are no more than a 5 or 10 minute walk from the freshman housing.
Directions to GVSU Boathouse.
Q: “Are there dues?”
A: Yes. As a club we are responsible for our own budget and raise this money through dues and fundraising by the athletes. Rowers pay each semester, but have the opportunity to work it off through the Rent-A-Rowing program. The Rent-A Rower program is where we as rowers are hired out to help out in all sorts of ways, such as game security, snow shoveling, heavy lifting, gardening, etc. The program is utilized throughout the community and on campus.
Q: “Do I need to have a physical performed by a physician before I start?”
A: We do not require a physical signed by a physician. You will certainly need to be physically capable of doing it. All participants will of course sign a waiver and a statement that they are physically capable of doing this. If you question your ability to physically perform this feat you should consult a doctor for his or her recommendation.
Q: “My parents and I are worried about having enough time to study. Will this interfere?”
A: One of the really important things that rowing will help you learn is the importance of good study habits. Rowers very quickly learn how to maximize time and prioritize as the student learns to structure his/her day to include working out, class time and studying. Being a student-athlete is definitely challenging in ways that it isn’t in high school, it may require some sacrifice of TV time or just “hanging out doing nothing in particular.” Welcome to the real world. Good grades are very achievable with the right approach. Student-Athletes usually have some of the highest GPA’s as they learn very good time management. In 2014, the varsity program carried a 3.3 GPA.
Q: “Do you miss a lot of class time for travel?”
A: In the entire year, you may miss at most 3 days – all Fridays, which are usually light class days anyway. They will generally occur in the spring, and students are expected to make the necessary arrangements with their professors. One of the things the club does do is stagger its departure times, so that you miss as little class time as possible.
We are successful, and one of the reasons we are successful is that we are a dedicated and committed group of student athletes.
Rowing is an experience like none other. Working together, racing together, achieving a state of harmony, fluidity and balance gives a “high” that is addictive. Becoming supremely fit is an incredible” side-effect”. Through the process of becoming better at your sport, you and your teammates learn some things about yourselves, and some people find benefits beyond the purely physical.
This is an experience that could be one of the best college decisions you make.