Local teens on board with crewing

Local teens on board with crewing

What used to be considered a sport associated with only Ivy League schools, has been increasing in popularity with many local teens, some of whom are earning top state and regional rankings for crewing, more commonly referred to as rowing.

Crewing_04The easy access to Jacksonville’s waterways has helped to make crewing an emerging sport for local high school students, and not just for students from area private schools, but also from public schools and for homeschool students as well.

“About half of our members are from Stanton College Prep and one-third are homeschool students,” said Tess Durant, volunteer senior coach and founding member of the Stanton Riverbank (SRB) Rowing Team. The team, which originated at Duval County’s Stanton College Preparatory, is open to all middle and high school students in Jacksonville and the surrounding areas.

Durant has spent 25 years as a rowing coach and says although there is great interest in rowing, it is hard for public schools to have rowing teams due to the cost of crewing equipment – which is expensive, limited places to practice, and the teams would have to get sponsors who are teachers. The SRB has a foundation that raises most of the funds needed for the rowing equipment, Durant said. SRB Individual membership fees cover travel, race entry fees and uniforms.

Crewing_02Marme Kopp, whose son Gannon will be a freshman at Stanton Prep and a member of the SRB team, said it is incredible to watch the kids participate in a sport that is so physically challenging and that requires true team work.

“It’s very disciplined and it gives them the drive to do well,” said Kopp, who explained her son and team members often start at 5:45 a.m. for practice even on cold January mornings.

Durant said teams row about two to two and half miles for a sprint race and around six plus miles for a head race, which is 5,000 meters. A normal practice session is around five miles of rowing.

“It is truly a team sport. There are eight in a boat and everyone has to do their part. There is no coach on the boat, so they are on their own.” said Durant.

Ortega area resident Dr. Al Lopez, whose daughter Isabella has rowed for SRB for two years, said they have watched the sport grow in popularity. He believes his daughter benefits a great deal from being a part of a rowing team. Isabella, who is 15 and a straight “A” student at Stanton, has won several awards for crewing, including first in state for the Women’s Junior Sculling.

Crewing_01“I think she has learned a strong sense of self as well as inner pride, all things that many young adults sometimes struggle with,” said Lopez. “The SRB crew team are a great group of young adults that will all be successful individually and as part of society’s future.”

Many local homeschool students find that rowing is a great sport for them to participate in and gives them a well-rounded extra-curricular opportunity.

“As a home schooling family, we seek out many opportunities to participate in a variety of groups that offer unique educational, extra-curricular and sporting activities,” explained Peggy Kennon, whose son Jared has been rowing with SRB since his 8th grade year and is now 15. After attending a two week introductory rowing camp, she said her son found the perfect sport to be involved in with rowing.

“At the completion he came home and said ‘Mom, I’ve found my sport and I’ve found my people,’” explained Kennon.

“The team environment and encouraging coaches develop values such as loyalty, dedication, hard work and perseverance. With our beautiful city of waterways and a state that is strong in rowing, we have enjoyed becoming more involved in the sport and traveling in the Southeast to beautiful racing venues,” said Kennon.

“We see river dolphins, bald eagles and all kinds of beautiful things. I love the nature part of it,” said Durant.

By Marian Johns
Resident Community News

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