By John McCarty Sports Editor email@example.com
On Monday, Sept. 5 the women's rowing team will have their first practice on the Willamette River, splashing their way into the history books as UP's first ever women's NCAA Division I rowing team.
Though rowing season does not begin until springtime, Head Coach Bill Zack has been gathering rowers, equipment and support since he was hired in June.
Zack comes to UP with an extensive history in the rowing community. He is currently president of the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association, and most recently the lead assistant coach at UCLA following head coaching jobs at Sacramento State, Old Dominion, Long Beach State and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
According to Athletic Director Larry Williams, Zack was selected as head coach because of his leadership role in the rowing community, his reputation for program building and his teaching ability.
Following the addition of Zack as head coach, the Athletic department began actively seeking out students for the rowing team through a post on portlandpilots.com as well as a general letter addressed to all female freshmen.
The addition of collegiate rowing came about prior to the University's NCAA recertification. The Athletic Department performed an internal evaluation and elected to cut both men's and women's golf and add rowing in order to remain in compliance with Title IX.
Prior to the addition of rowing as an officially sanctioned sport, UP had a historically successful crew club. The average NCAA women's rowing roster size is 62.6; however, according to Zack, only eight current team members have previous rowing experience while the rest are new to the sport.
"We want to instill the right values and culture as well as the right technique and training," Zack said. "Not everyone can do it, but if you're a good athlete we can make you a good rower."
The rowing team will be participating in smaller competitions in the fall including Row for the Cure, with the official NCAA season beginning in the Spring of 2012.