Crew club disbands after 11 years due to lack of funding, demand
By Kyle Cape-Lindelin Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite being a staple of the many University of Portland clubs for 11 years, the Crew club rowing team is finally laying down its oars after repeated failed efforts to raise funds and draw new rowers.
The Crew club took a huge hit with the formation of a Division 1 women's rowing team last year, which took the majority of rowers from the club team.
Some of the few dedicated and veteran rowers for the club include juniors Kyle McDonnell and Greg Brady, who have both been in the Crew club since their freshman year.
"It's really sad and disappointing," McDonnell, a resident assistant for Schoenfeldt, said. "We tried hard to recruit new members, but with no interest and our own lives gaining more responsibilities, it was something we saw coming."
The Crew club team was formed in 2001 by alumna Megan Thompson. Members found it difficult to recruit new rowers due to the heavy time commitment needed for training and due to the physical demands rowing takes. Crew members like McDonnell and Brady would have to carpool to the Portland Boathouse in Southwest Portland to row on the Willamette River and found problems scheduling with other rowing teams.
"It took a lot of time and effort to even get to train," Brady said. "It's hard to try and convince students to give up their free time to row, especially when most don't have experience."
Even though the formation of a Division 1 women's rowing team contributed to Crew's demise, McDonnell has no hard feelings for the opportunity many women rowers received.
"I'm very happy for the girls, they deserve an opportunity to properly train with professional coaches," McDonnell said. "Even though it hurt Crew, it gives many girls who are very talented and dedicated rowers a chance to really improve and compete."
Lack of funding also contributed to the loss of Crew. Because UP clubs must pay dues of $250 a semester, lack of advertising time and new recruits contributed to Crew not sustaining itself.
"Crew really wasn't sustainable despite all the effort. We did try and attract new recruits and awareness," Brady said. "It was a great run while it lasted and I certainly enjoyed it. I got a great chance to meet new friends and grow close to my teammates. You can't replace that."
Members of Crew found ample time to form friendships and get comfortable with their close-knit team, during the long rides to races as well as during training.
"Crew was an awesome experience for me. I had lots of fun with my boat-mates," sophomore Adam Brizzolara said. "It was a great opportunity to meet new people, friends and get good exercise."
Some memorable moments of Crew included a seven-hour ride to Sacramento, Calif. to take part in the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships (WIRA), by far the biggest race of the year.
"Those were my favorite memories of Crew, just being stuck in the same car together for seven hours," McDonnell said. "We became really close, and I'm glad to say they're some of my best friends."
With the lack of interest in Crew, McDonnell believes there won't be a resurrection of the club or the possibility of a formation of an all-male Division 1 team in the near future.
"I really doubt it, simply because we worked really hard to get interest and it didn't work," McDonnell said. "We will keep the Crew club account open. If interest begins to pick back up with UP becoming known as a rowing school thanks to our Division 1 status, you never know."
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