The University of Vermont Crew club was started in 1986. Elaine Soderstrom Anderson '87 and Heather Smith Martin '87 both arrived at UVM with experience in crew and hopes to keep rowing during college. One problem, it wasn't a Vermont sport - varsity or club. Or maybe it wasn't a problem. Anderson says that the desire to row is an undeniable force: "Once people have done crew, it's just in them. We were willing to do anything to get it going."
That's not a surprising attitude, perhaps, from a group of folks inclined to put in hours on one of the loneliest pieces of equipment in the gym. It would take a good deal of oarswomanly grit to get the job done. They were told that the weather was too cold, the season too short, the boats too expensive. "We got shut down so many times from all angles," Anderson says. "We really fought hard to get it a club sport - pushing, pushing."
The push started with the classic campus communications tools-flyers and bulletin boards-through which they quickly rounded up some 30 like-minded souls who began to train like a crew team, though they lacked critical equipment, like a boat. But they practiced - running stairs, working the rowing machines, hitting the weight room. Steadily, they began to move upstream. Their first boat was a hand-me-down from Dartmouth. They found a stalwart advisor and coach in Geology Professor Charlotte Mehrtens, a rower during grad school at the University of Chicago. Gordon Thom, a farmer in Milton, gave the nod to providing river access on his farm, where the fledgling team built a dock and a rough boathouse on a perfect spot-three miles of quiet, protected water from Lake Champlain.
So they had purchased three old boats, built an open-air boat rack on the rented lot in Milton, and began rowing. Even from the earliest days, the team has always been ambitious. With membership ranging between 40 to 80 strong, and a small fleet of wooden Pococks they went to several races in their first year. Sixteen years later few things have changed. We still row out of the same boat rack in Milton, membership numbers are high, and the ambition of the rowers is overwhelming.
Crew has gone on to become one of UVM's strongest club sports in terms of both participation and performance. The students who make the early morning drive up to the Lamoille these days are training to compete against other schools. It's a privilege that Anderson and Martin didn't quite achieve in the start-up years. Still, they made their own reward. They got to row.
The typical UVM rower has never been exposed to rowing until college. The learning curve is steep, however, and it's not long before the typical rower becomes a seasoned oarsman or oarswoman. Over the years, UVM managed to produce numerous New England Championships, several elite rowers, and two World Champions. No matter what, everyone in the the UVM Crew Club has a common belief through hard work and determination, a group of ordinary people can produce extraordinary results. All our rowers, as well as our 4 coaches (all ex-UVM rowers) follow this philosophy at every practice. It is our belief that rowing for UVM fosters the growth of disciplined, self-confident individuals, who understand the values of hard work, team play, and sportsmanship.
-Written by Katie Medrek
Come Join UVM Crew!!!!
Looking for a new sport this year? Try Crew! With over 50 rowers UVM Crew has become a big name in the rowing community. Stop by our tent this Saturday at the welcome picnic for more information, or email our coaches Ian and Doug to learn more about the team. Practices are open to all prospective athletes, no expirence required. Practices start Monday August 28th @ 5:30pm in the Patrick Gym Lobby. Bring Sneakers, Gym Clothes, and Water.
Our team is 100% student run. That means we pay for our own equipment, entry fees, professional coaching, and other expenses through fundraising and generous donations from our supporters. If you need help raking leaves, painting, shoveling snow, or any other task you see fit for a group of Burlington Rowers, drop us a line (or an oar handele) and let us help you out. Head over to our fundraising page to get more information and see how we can help you!