BY BILL MANNING | PHOTO BY LISA WORTHY
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One of the strengths of junior rowing in North America is that we have both scholastic and club teams. There are outstanding coaches and athletes in both types of programs. This diversity of opportunities makes rowing more accessible and appealing to athletes of varied abilities, resources, and interests.
For most, the decision whether to join a club or school team is simple: Only one local option exists. For those who have a true choice, the decision deserves careful consideration. One aspect of this decision may be the impact on the athlete’s future recruitment by college rowing teams.
While relevant, this should be a distant consideration. Junior rowing has value in and of itself, not simply as a possible stepping stone to college. Athletes and their parents are best served by focusing on what opportunity matches the interests and capabilities of their rower and the family’s resources.
There’s nothing wrong with choosing a club program over a school team when beginning to row or shortly thereafter. Rowing for a club or with a private coach also offers tremendous value during the summer, fall, and winter. Athletes doing so can improve and thus help themselves and their school’s team achieve greater racing success.
A disturbing trend, however, is the increasing number of athletes who switch out of their school program in junior year and join a club or private coach independent of their school team. These athletes maintain that in order to get recruited they need “a higher level of competition” and/or “help lowering their erg time.” This thinking is mistaken; it’s a red flag for college coaches when prospects bail out on their school team during racing season or skip the season entirely.
The best way to predict whether or not a prospect will make a good teammate and team member is by reviewing past behavior. If a prospect quits a school team to pursue a personal agenda, this suggests that she may do the same as a college athlete. Selfish agendas do not make successful college teams. If a rower maintains that she “just can’t get it done” at her school and “needs better teammates/coaching,” what’s to say she won’t make the same excuses in college?
It’s far better to embrace the challenge. Prospects make a more positive impression on college coaches by making their current team better. Be a contributor rather than a quitter. If you want to get recruited, show the colleges your willingness to do all you can to make your team better. These are the athletes all college coaches want on their teams.