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May 5, 2015

Rowing team making waves at Cleveland State

By Jordan Smith

Cleveland State University’s rowing team is headed into its 15th season of competition. The team trains on the water eight weeks each semester during the season to prepare for competition which is usually Division 1 colleges from around the Midwest and East Coast. The 27-member team usually holds its practices on the Cuyahoga River from 5:30 a.m. until about 7:30 a.m.

From January until spring break, the team meets four days a week for winter conditioning. Participants don’t have to tryout to make the team but must if they want to race in the Varsity boat. Technically, Cleveland State rowing is a club team, so it had to raise its own money for competition and boathouse fees. They do fundraisers to help offset some of the costs, but it still leaves individual rowers with a fee of $200 per semester. Coxswain’s, who steer and command the boat, have a lighter fee of only $60 per semester.

The team’s website emphasizes the need for members who are smaller in stature. People who weigh 140 pounds and under make perfect Coxswains. The description on the website insinuates that the underweight, confident, vocal types who want to do something are perfect for the job.

For the most part, Cleveland State’s rowing team consists of both current and former athletes. It serves as a good cross-training sport for swimmers and runners, and serves as a way to keep in shape and remain competitive for those who played sports in high school.

Rowing at Cleveland State began in the fall of 2001 by former student Dan DiAngelo.

“Back then we borrowed beat up equipment and old oars,” said Erini Anthopoulos, current head coach of Cleveland State’s rowing team.

“Our team now consists of one of the larger collegiate programs in Cleveland with eight boats and 30 oars and a full-time volunteer coaching staff of alumni rowers,” she said.

This year, the team has enjoyed a reasonable amount of success. It most recently participated in the Mid-Atlantic rowing championship which saw the women place third in the women’s novice 4-plus race, third in Women’s varsity 4-plus and first place in the women’s novice 8-plus race. They competed amongst NCAA Division 3 teams.

“We rowed against D-3 varsity programs and always see and compete against teams who are fully funded with scholarship rowers,” Anthopoulos said. “Its great to see how awesome our athletes stack up against that kind of competition.”

Their competitions, which are called regattas, require the team to travel to lakes and rivers near the universities hosting the meet. Typically, there are three to five regattas per semester which includes one at home.

“This year we traveled to Columbus, Cincinnati, Chattanooga, Tenn., Farmer City, Ill. and Lewisberry, Pa.,” Anthropoulos said. “Our next home race is the Head of the Cuyahoga on Sept. 19, 2015.”

They’ve seen a high degree of fluctuation in participation. They began this season with 26 rowers, but began the fall of 2013 with 56 rowers. Once classes start in the fall, the team spends a fair share amount of time with each other beginning with the early morning practices.

“Our water practices are from 5:30 a.m. to 7:15 a.m. when classes begin in the fall and in spring semester we train indoors on rowing machines from 6 a.m. to 7:15 a.m. four days a week until spring training,” she said.

In the past four years, they’ve taken their spring training trips to Tampa, Fla. During their fall practices, they row their boats up and down the Cuyahoga River, and if weather permits, Lake Erie.
“Our team practices in boats that seat four people and boats that seat eight people with a coxswain who steers in each boat,” Anthropoulos said.

Becoming a member of the team is as easy as showing up to their location on the Cuyahoga River for the first day of practice when school starts in the fall. For more information, email csurowing@gmail.com or visit the website at csurowing.com.

Their methods to securing interest and longevity in the program include practice, the guarantee of learning a new sport and making new friends while ensuring low membership dues.

“Rowing isn’t easy, but those with an athletic background and [who are] willing to work hard can really get something out of this sport,” Anthropoulos said.