Rowing For A Cause

By Arleigh Rodgers '21, March 12, 2021
Athletes holds fundraiser for crew teams, contribute to IC Habitat for Humanity.

Loud music mixed with the grinding of ergometers inside the Ithaca College Ward Romer Boathouse on March 3, where the college’s Men’s and Women’s Crew teams worked out — masked, distanced and wearing Bomber gear — to row and raise money for the crew teams and IC Habitat for Humanity.

The annual event, dubbed Row for Humanity, is a row-a-thon where crew team members set a collective goal of rowing 1 million meters to support the team and benefit the nonprofit, which builds homes for families in need. Before the event, the teams send out mailers asking family and friends to pledge money to their cause. The event, which usually takes place in Campus Center, was held in the two-story boathouse this year to allow for greater distancing between athletes. 

Women’s crew coach Becky Robinson said that just having the event during a pandemic was what she looked forward to most about it — combined with the fact that starting the week after Row For Humanity, the Crew teams were planning to get on the waters of Cayuga Lake for the first time in almost a year.

“Crew is such a sport where you need to be together. We’ve been trying a little harder to just be more vocal in practice and really communicate better and bring that team spirit again.”

Paige Pimental ’23

Training on an erg is typical for the athletes, Robinson said. In order to reach 1 million meters, the men’s team was expected to row 15,000 meters per athlete while the women’s team was expected to perform 14,000 meters per athlete. Some athletes exceeded their expected lengths by rowing over 19,000 meters during their 90-minute shift.

At the end of the day, 68 rowers and two coaches rowed 1,110,516 meters, and the teams raised $15,000.

“All of the training that they do through the winter to prepare to row is on the rolling ergometer, so this really fits in well with what they do normally for training,” Robinson said. “The preparation for them to complete the million meters is more about planning and coordination than it is about physically being prepared to do it. They'll all be physically prepared to do the work.”

While the team aspect of the event was somewhat lost to distancing — usually teammates pair up and switch throughout the day — Carlie Wohlfahrt ’23 said the atmosphere and environment of the event was still positive and uplifting.

“We really value team culture, so there’s a lot of vocal encouragement going on,” she said. “It’s just a really positive environment and positive mindset.”

Before starting his shift, Seth Freeman ’23 said he was excited to work out with teammates he hadn’t seen most of the season. Earlier in the semester, the team was broken up into smaller “pods” of eight athletes to follow COVID-19 guidelines and avoid face-to-face contact within the larger group. 

“It’s fun to be able to do this in spite of everything,” he said. “I know everyone has different mentalities for what they want to do to hit their certain mileage while keeping spirits high.”

At a team meeting approximately a week before Row for Humanity, Paige Pimental ’23 said the team discussed ways to stay connected while also following COVID-19 regulations.

“Crew is such a sport where you need to be together,” she said. “We’ve been trying a little harder to just be more vocal in practice and really communicate better and bring that team spirit again. You need to have those positive thoughts for yourself when you don’t have someone [like a coxswain] yelling them at you the entire time. That’s a different part of your brain you have to tap into to do it successfully.”