Since the RowAmerica Rye Junior Program and Rye High School crew team moved next door to the Rye Boat Basin on Milton Road last spring, the number of kids on the team has exploded to a record 52 boys and 21 girls.
By Melanie Cane
Since the RowAmerica Rye Junior Program and Rye High School crew team moved next door to the Rye Boat Basin on Milton Road last spring, the number of kids on the team has exploded to a record 52 boys and 21 girls. Last fall, when they were based in Greenwich, there were 50 student rowers in all. Of the 52 boys, 28 row for the varsity team and 24 are novices. On the girls’ teams, 13 row for varsity, while eight are novices.
Boys’ coach Stan Nelson, and girls’ coach Jen Palermo are thrilled with the increased interest in rowing — and busy. On a typical day, the varsity boys and girls and novice girls practice from 5 to 7 a.m., while the novice boys practice from 3 to 5 p.m. Even though Coach Nelson and Coach Palermo run separate practices, they help one another as well as RowAmerica Rye Director Laura Rauchfuss and Coach Pierrick Absolonne. On a typical day, they devote eight hours to crew-related responsibilities.
Team members range from high-prowess experienced athlete rowers to non-athletes. Anyone who comes out for the team is accepted as long as he or she passes the swim test. A typical practice consists of running, stretching, and rowing. The students are also responsible for cleaning and maintaining the skulls. “Everyone has to pitch in!”
Safety is rule number one, stressed Coach Palermo. Rowers wear reflective vests on the water at all times, and one rower in each boat is assigned a walky-talky to communicate with the coach. After safety, the coaches emphasize sportsmanship as well as the development of each team member as a whole person in addition to as an athlete.
The captains have yet to be chosen, but the coaches know what they’re looking for: hard-working rowers with the ability to lead the entire team who will get the boats down from their perches and water-ready quickly and efficiently.
The team will hold an Ergathon fundraiser at Rye Middle School, September 28 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. They will be offering free classes to SoleRyeder volunteers October 4-5. Their first race is October 6 at the head of the Riverfront, in Hartford.