Why is rowing a club sport at Amherst?
Rowing is an extremely expensive sport to operate, and as a result, it can overwhelm an athletic departments budget. The rowing program was restructured as a varsity-club in the early 1990s in an effort to increase the budget so that a high level of quality could be maintained. The club status has allowed us to create an alumni association, develop a strong parent base of support, establish an endowment and fund-raise at levels not permitted to a varsity-only program.
Has the move to varsity-club status been successful?
As a result of our fund-raising efforts and gifts to the program, we have purchased ten new Vespoli and Pocock shells (including Millennium models), a new truck, twelve new ergometers, and four sets of Concept II oars over the last five years. This kind of money was not available to us when we functioned as a varsity-only program.
Is there a disadvantage to being a club?
The only disadvantage is that the NCAA, which oversees womens rowing, does not recognize club programs. As a result, our women cannot earn an NCAA Division III ranking, nor are they eligible to be considered as contenders for the NCAA championship. Mens rowing is not affected by our club status, as it is not under the auspices of the NCAA.
Are there any other restrictions regarding racing? For example, do you race varsity programs?
Our spring schedule includes mostly varsity programs. Most of the colleges that we race against are from the NESCAC league. Our men and women race the same schedule.
Does it cost anything to row?
We charge $200.00 a semester for dues. This charge is necessary to pay for basic operating costs, such as transportation. However, no one will be turned away if they cannot afford this expense.
Does club status mean that you do not have any pull with admissions?
Unfortunately, we cannot support a prospective student who has rowing or coxswain experience with the admissions process.
Where is your boathouse?
Our boathouse is located in Hadley, Massachusetts, on the Connecticut River. Here's a map of the Smith College boathouse -- we're right next door.
How far from Amherst Campus is it?
It is approximately six miles from the campus.
Are there any other rowing teams in the area?
Smith College has a boathouse adjacent to ours in Hadley, and the University of Massachusetts - Amherst has a boathouse directly across the river in Northampton. In addition, the Yankee Rowing Club is nearby, and offers a sculling program.
What is the river like?
We have unlimited water to row on, and the Holyoke Range offers a dramatic backdrop to the south, especially when the foliage is at its peak in the fall.
Prospective Rowers and Coxswains
Do you offer scholarships?
Athletic scholarships are not permitted at Amherst College, nor at any of the NESCAC schools.
Do you recruit prospective rowers and coxswains?
Not in the traditional understanding of college athletic recruiting. As stated we cannot offer athletic scholarships, and the rowing team does not have any influence with admissions due to our club status. However, prospective rowers and coxswains are welcome and encouraged to visit the college and to speak with the coaches to learn more about the rowing opportunities at Amherst. This is a valuable opportunity and can assist you in making a decision about your academic and athletic future.
Do experienced rowers or coxswains apply to Amherst?
All the time. We usually have a couple of experienced freshmen on the men's or women's teams each fall.
Do you have to have rowing experience to row at Amherst?
Absolutely not. Rowing is one of the few sports that you can join without having had previous experience. Each year, most of the novice team is comprised of athletes who have never rowed before. Our coaches are very experienced in teaching beginners how to become successful rowers. That said, previous athletic experience is very helpful.
Do you have a lightweight program?
In the past, we have rowed a lightweight men's four. Unfortunately, lightweight rowing has been on the wane recently, and there are fewer lightweight crews to compete against. This is especially true in womens lightweight rowing. This, however, does not put you at a disadvantage if you are a lightweight rower. In recent years, we have had very successful, including medal-winning, boats with lightweight rowers in them.
I'm a lightweight woman - can I make a contribution to the team?
Absolutely! Most of our lightweights, both men and women, have made significant contributions to the open weight boats. We've had lightweight women in many successful open weight fours, including a varsity boat that won gold in the Avaya (ECAC) Championship in 2002, a varsity boat that won bronze at New England Fours in 2006, and in a novice boat that won gold at New England Fours in the same year.
How many athletes do you have on the team?
During the spring season we have approximately 40-50 men and women on the roster.
Most of your championship results are in fours. Do you race eights as well?
Our concentration is fours. We race fours and pairs throughout the season, and may occasionally race eights, but eights are not our focus. Fours are becoming a more elite event, and our crews have found great success in this event.
How competitive is the program?
Since 1999, we have won five medals at the New England Collegiate Rowing Championships, fourteen medals at the New England Fours Championships, and a gold medal at the Avaya Invitational Regatta (now the ECAC Invitational Championships). In addition, we have won numerous medals at the fall regattas such as the Head of the Housatonic Regatta and the Hartford Riverfront Recapture Regatta. Each year, we also send a boat to compete in the Head of the Charles event in Boston, MA, and in recent years, we have sent competitive boats to the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia, PA.
Still more questions? Contact our coach, Bill Stekl, at: firstname.lastname@example.org.