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Sports October 12, 2000

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CSU's newest sport, crew, attracts males and females

CSU’s crew team practices in the Cuyahoga River in the Cleveland Flats. Members get up in the dark at 5:30 a.m. to practice every day before classes. The meet schedule for fall term is irregular, but the team won its first competition.

On any given weekday at 5 a.m. one can find Cleveland State students in the Cuyahoga River.

The newly resurrected CSU crew team practices every weekday at 5 a.m. and Saturdays around 9 a.m. for two hours on the West Bank of The Flats.

During the first week of school, CSU student Chris Petryshyn and his friend Dan DiAngelo set up a stand at the student activities fair in the cage with the intent of gauging CSU students’ interest in starting a crew team.

According to Petryshyn, they collected more than 50 signatures, which they eventually cut down to the current 20 to 25 members of the team.

With 22 years of rowing experience between them, DiAngelo and Petryshyn are the coach and assistant coach, respectively, of the CSU team. Both men started rowing at St. Ignatius High School.

DiAngelo went on to be a crew member and then an assistant coach at the University of Cincinnati. Petryshyn stayed in Cleveland and has coached youth and mostly adult teams through Cleveland’s Western Reserve Rowing Federation (W.R.R.F.), a non-profit organization that helps sponsor CSU’s new team.

The crew team has already begun competition for the fall season, and will compete in the spring as well.

Rowing as a sport has two distinct styles of competition. In both the fall and spring seasons, boats have eight rowers and one coxswain, the team member who calls out the stroke to keep the entire team synchronized. The difference in the seasons is that in the fall, each boat rows a course that is 3.5 miles long with only the clock as its opposition, only one boat rows at a time. In the spring, regattas are held with many teams competing at the same time, racing over a course that is 2,000 meters long.

The first competition for CSU’s team was Sept. 20 at the “Head of the Cuyahoga” Regatta, which was comprised of university teams from the area.

At the regatta, CSU’s men’s team beat the team from Case Western Reserve University, and the women’s team beat two teams from John Carroll University.

Team member and CSU Student Government Vice President Sean Wenger said the first meet was gratifying.

“It was good to come out and perform,” he said, “and to beat some teams from the area.”

The remainder of the regattas for the fall season will be out of town. The next one being held in Elkhart, Ind. this Saturday.

Petryshyn said that Cleveland no longer has an event for the spring season because of the safety hazards that occur when a large number of boats race a 2,000-meter sprint in The Flats.

The team plans to become officially recognized by the university, and Petryshyn said that the team should be a recognized student club within the next few weeks.

Eventually he said that the team would like to talk to the athletic department about becoming affiliated with it. “The club sport should build a good foundation for the possibility of becoming varsity,” Wenger said.

Petryshyn said that he feels rowing is a good sport for any university, and he said that women’s rowing is one of the fastest growing sports at the university level.

He said that he was still surprised at the large number of responses, from both men and women that they received after one day in the UC.

“At newer programs you tend to get people who want to be active… but don’t want to be a student-athlete, they just want to be athletic,” he said.

When asked what his and DiAngelo’s motivation was for trying to start a team at CSU, Petryshyn said that although teams had been started here in the past, they had not been able to compete for very long.

He said that they thought their enthusiasm would make this attempt successful. “People that are involved in the sport and coach it tend to be pretty fanatical…,” Petryshyn said, “why else would you get up at five in the morning to participate in a sport that developed from capital punishment?”

Members of the crew team carry out 8-person boats for a practice session
on a recent morning in The Flats.

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