Team Profile: Boys Fall Rowing

Roberto Jay

Captained by Jacques van der Merwe and Christina Zhang, the fall crew team is mostly composed of students who will also row in the spring. 

At the Junior and Master New England Championship in Worcester, Massachusetts, Coach Houston put four doubles in the race, each with a more experienced sculler and less experienced sculler, resulting in first place, fourth place, fifth place, and seventh place finishes. The same rowers were then put into two coxed fours. One of the fours placed second overall (first place as a high school), and the placed seventh overall (third as a high school). 

The team then competed in the Head of the Charles Regatta, which Coach Houston described as “always a fun event and a good opportunity for rowers to see one of the largest regattas in the world as well as meet college coaches.” Along with the chance to see many alumni and participate in the large regatta, the boys team performed well, coming in 12th out of 90 for all competitors in the regatta, and placing third among the high school teams. 

Coach Houston has a unique approach with his rowers after a regatta. He prefers to ask his rowers for their feedback on how the race went and what affected their performance during it. After understanding their feedback, Coach Houston will make a diagnosis on how the race went. Some difficulties in being the rowing coach are that Houston has to decide who goes in the boat in order to make the boat the fastest possible. As not everyone can be in the boat during races, tough decisions have to be made in terms of who makes it versus who does not. 

Aside from deciding who rows in which boat, Coach Houston shares that the sport itself demands a very high level of commitment, and many people do not understand the amount of work it takes to row at a high level–people who watch rowing races do not see unnoticed hard work that the rowers put in to make rowing look that easy. Rowing is also different from most sports in that one has to be giving a 100% effort at all times because even just taking it easy on a couple strokes can cost the entire boat in terms of the result. 

To prepare for races, Coach Houston dedicates daily practice time to drills on the water or doing work on the ergometer. In addition, he recommends that most rowers do their own training in the forms of strength training and work on the ergometer alongside these practices. 

With Kent adding crew to the list of fall sports, Coach Houston expressed excitement that rowers are able to use this opportunity in smaller boats to learn boat-feel and improve their technique, and he is looking forward to races in the spring.