Club SportsSports

UO Club Rowing succeeds in Million Meter Challenge fundraiser

The Oregon club rowing team rowed 1,109,561 meters in just under four hours during its Million Meter Challenge fundraiser on Sunday, Feb. 15.

The team set up 28 ergometers at McArthur Court and challenged each of its members to row 20,000 meters to reach its goal. Family, friends and crew alumni attended the “erg-a-thon” and sponsored rowers via fixed donations, pledges per meter and raffle entries to raise money for new equipment and the team’s annual trip to nationals.

“The Million Meter Challenge was a way of showing people our commitment,” Connor Benson, crew member and co-organizer of the event, said. “We’re willing to row a million meters to show others we’re committed to doing this and that it’s worth the donation.”

5o members of Oregon Rowing contributed meters to the total and provided visitors with a taste of the grueling nature of the sport. Cinema studies major Jake Farrell led the field with 33,650 meters, logging the equivalent of more than 20 miles. Community members collectively contributed 162,979 meters on their own.

The majority of Oregon Rowing’s members joined the team with little or no experience rowing, but had an interest in trying something new.

Benson also cites the sport’s natural capacity for measuring one’s progress as a drawing factor: “It’s really rewarding for me personally to set goals for myself. You train pretty much all year for it and when you hit that goal, you can clearly say this is the work I put in and this what I put out.”

Human physiology major Aly Zahariev had never competed in any sport before joining crew, but rowed 20,000 meters in the challenge. Although she’s new to the competition, she foresees herself continuing to row for a long time.

“[The Million Meter Challenge] was a great way of capturing our, the team’s progress as a community,” Zahariev said. “It’s a very personal experience for me, to tangibly see our progress. It’s kind of addicting.”

Senior Caellagh Morrissey had also never rowed before joining the team as a freshman. Morrissey’s parents met each other while competing on the University of the Pacific rowing team, and she saw joining UO crew as a last-chance opportunity.

“It’s definitely been the defining feature of my college experience,” Morrissey said. “It’s a lot of people who don’t all share the same interests outside of rowing, but can come together in one boat and work together to achieve something.”

Although her passion for the sport is unwavering, by no means did Morrissey’s infatuation with rowing come instantaneously. She recalls being wet and freezing after a long race in the fall of her novice season, standing outside in the dark with no familiar faces around her. She wondered why she was there in the first place. When spring came around, however, she got a chance to see the final product they’d worked so tirelessly for all season.

“When it all finally comes together for the regattas, you can’t think about anything else but being in the boat at that moment. It’s meditative and huge for me,” Morrissey said. “It’s what keeps me coming back every year.”

Follow Kenny Jacoby on Twitter @kennyjacoby

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Kenny Jacoby

Kenny Jacoby

Kenny is the senior sports editor for the Emerald. He spent two years studying computer and information science before changing his major to journalism. He also freelances for the Register-Guard, interns for the Eugene Weekly and works as a research assistant for UO journalism professor Seth Lewis.