Crew Program Starts Strong

In the midst of its first ever season, the crew team has already anchored itself as an essential sport this spring.
Thanks to an anonymous donor, the school was able to acquire the funds necessary for boats and a coach. Many students were overjoyed and pumped with excitement when the announcement of the team was made.
There has been a signficant interest in crew, with over 40 students participating in the co-curricular. Head Coach Victoria McGee has extensive experience in the sport and came from coaching the women’s 8-boat crew team at Duke University.
In its inaugural season, Coach McGee has been getting the members of the team acclimated, as most rowers are new to the sport. With the announcement of the new team coming in the middle of the year, and with many students already having decided their spring sports, it comes as no surprise that this season will serve as a test-run, with no competitions against other schools scheduled. Next year will be its first competitive season.
The school has invested in one 8-person boat and three 4-person boats, in order to give the team some variation in their practice and in the events in which they can compete. In the future, Coach McGee hopes to purchase more 8-person boats, which she believes are more enjoyable to race and go faster than any other type of boat.
Currently, the team rows at Lake Washinee, which is over 1.6 miles long. McGee believes that the lake offers plenty of room for the sport to grow and evolve. The rowers are finding their rhythm on the water and look forward to competing with other schools next year.

Rowing accepts anyone who wants to work hard, and it is important to accommodate everyone who wants to be a part [of] it.

— Coach Victoria McGee

Practices consist of fitness-intensive rotations: some athletes remain on campus while others head to Lake Washinee. Those who stay at Hotchkiss participate in demanding Erg workouts and drills.
At Lake Washinee, athletes take strokes in the team’s 8-person boat. Coach McGee has high praise for the team and said, “The team is goofy, hardworking, curious, and smart.”
Team member Alex Won ’21 said that the team is lucky to have Coach McGee guiding them in their very first season and that her enthusiasm and experience has allowed new rowers to pick up the sport quickly and easily. Won describes practice as rigorous and intense. He is thankful for the team’s supportive nature. Won said, “Everyone always lifts each other and the energy makes everything worth it.”
Being a new team, there are many challenges that it must surmount on a daily basis. For example, the sheer number of participants requires Coach McGee to make innovations so that everyone can get a proper workout. However, despite more than 40 athletes rowing, McGee was adamant that no cuts would be made, saying, “Rowing accepts anyone who wants to work hard, and it is important to accommodate everyone who wants to be a part [of] it.”
As the season comes to a close, Coach McGee is proud of her rowers’ vast improvement. The team has come a long way from their first days of practice, when members were simply learning to carry the boats. Now, rowers launch into the water without the need of instruction from Coach McGee. She’s been having to do less and less and the team becomes faster almost everyday.
With regard to this young program, Coach McGee added that she’s “really excited to start showing the New England area what Hotchkiss rowing is all about.”
In less than a year, the team will be competing for the first time, and it seems as though all rowers are looking forward to it.