Crew team has high expectations for spring

Photo courtesy of GT Crew

The largest sports club on campus is the Georgia Tech Crew team. Founded in 1986, the team has roughly 90 students participate.

Its varsity team competes with the best crew teams in the country despite only being recognized as a sports club at Tech and, therefore, is unable to offer scholarships specifically for crew.

Along with men’s and women’s varsity teams, crew also has men’s and women’s novice teams for beginners. Men’s teams are broken up into heavyweight and lightweight divisions.

Rowing crew is a demanding sport, and practices and workouts are held nearly every day of the week. Crew uses the CRC ergometers the fifth floor track to practice the motions of rowing and train themselves to have the endurance and strength to compete at such a high level.

For their on-water training, crew also has a boathouse located on the Chattahoochee River in Roswell, Georgia.

Novices who row for a season are promoted to varsity the following season, and many of the rowers are beginners to the sport: freshman orientation is one of their biggest recruiting tools.

Crew season lasts all year, and the team competed in a number of events during the fall season. The fall races are endurance races, and the spring events are sprints.

This past fall, the men’s varsity team won the points trophy for both the Head of the Chattanooga and Head of the South and will start their spring season with great momentum.

Third year IE Alec Kaye got involved with crew during his first year at Tech and was brand new to the sport at the time. He now rows on the varsity team and helped the lightweight team medal in many events in the fall.

“I went to FASET and was walking around, and I pretty much grabbed flyers from everyone,” Kaye said. “I instantly felt the connection with the other coach we had at the time, a graduate student at Tech, Ben Loeffler. Novices for the most part, we just stayed mostly on the ergs, building up endurance and strength. Just a wonderful way to get in shape and make friends.”

Another position in crew that is often overlooked is the coxswain. The coxswain is in charge of giving commands and can be described as the spiritual leader of the boat. They are generally small in stature and steer the boat.

“It’s just a special sport. There’s nothing else like it, especially the role of the coxswain,” said third year CE and coxswain Chiki Robaina. “You’re the coach when there is no coach. You’re the motivation when they want to quit, and you’re the person who’s literally steering the boat.”

Robaina has been a coxswain for the men’s varsity team the last three years, and the training to be a coxswain is vastly different than the training rowers receive.

Coxswains can make a major difference in whether the team finishes first or second during a tight race.

“When you do have that one race and when you win by 0.3 of a second… [and] they don’t declare you the winner until they review the footage for 15 minutes and getting off the water and the coach is saying your coxswain called the perfect race. There’s nothing better than that,” Robaina said.

Rowing can be very demanding during the race, but Kaye has never had a race where he felt like giving up and credits the teams’ endurance and coaching for always having the power to fight through to the very end.

The crew team has an action-packed spring schedule ahead and will get to travel all over the country to compete in events including the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia, PA.

“My personal goal is to bring home Georgia Tech’s first medal in the men’s varsity 8+ division at Dad Vail,” Chiki said.