The Oregon club rowing team set out to prove its commitment to the sport and the community. It accomplished just that.
The team reached its goal of collectively rowing 4.2 million meters — the distance from Eugene to Gainesville, Georgia, the site of the 2016 ACRA national championships — on its rowing machines at the Student Recreation Center for its annual Erg-A-Thon fundraiser on Sunday, Feb. 21.
Each of the team’s roughly 65 members was expected to individually erg between 25,000 and 40,000 meters, and some even exceeded that figure. Jake Riley and Delaney Rea rowed more than 90,000 meters each. Tanarae Hopkins and Annie Gilbert each rowed more than 63,0000 meters.
The normal regimen is about 10,000 to 12,000 meters of water training and 8,000 meters on the machines.
Head coach Marlene Kindorf said that many meters “takes quite a toll” on the rowers.
“We’re giving the kids the day off tomorrow,” Kindorf said. “The rest of the week will probably be a pretty light week.”
Almost 200 students, alumni and members of the Eugene/Springfield community contributed about 1.5 million meters to the goal. Oregon rowing alum Ray Remmers rowed 30,000 meters.
“I’ll feel it tomorrow,” Remmers said.
The team set its goal at one million meters in its first Erg-A-Thon last year, but decided to up the ante this year, largely due to its increase in size. The number of rowers on the team has nearly doubled in the past year alone.
The team has become more competitive thanks to its additional members, but now it has to keep up with the extra costs of equipment and sending its members to events.
“The team has seen such a significant amount of growth the last three years,” Kindorf said. “Now we’re coming up against some big challenges in terms of equipment funding and funding to get all of our kids to those regattas.”
One such event is the 2016 Pac-12 Rowing Championships on May 15, to which the men’s team was invited for the first time in its history. Transportation, hotel rooms and food for that trip costs more money, so the team figured it needed to up the ante in terms of its fundraising.
Club rowing also received a $30,000 grant from ASUO, which Kindorf said was “transformational” for the team. The grant paid for 11 new ergs, survival suits for coxswains, a new motorboat for coaches and new oars.
Kindorf said the turnout at the Erg-A-Thon this year was “so fantastic.” The event last year was held at McArthur Court; its relocation to the Rec helped increase foot traffic and interest.
Part of the proceeds from the fundraiser were given to Relief Nursery, a non-profit child abuse and neglect prevention agency.
“This year we wanted to add something where our supporters and students on campus could see that we also want to be involved in the community,” Kindorf said. “As a student organization — yes, it’s about rowing, but it’s also about being good citizens.”
Kindorf hopes one day the program will have enough funds to bring its entire team to the national championships in Gainesville. Instead it will bring its top men’s and women’s varsity and novice boats.
Two years ago the women’s novice boat won a silver medal at nationals. Last year the men’s novice boat won bronze, and every boat the team brought to the regatta qualified for the grand finals.
“We want to keep that going,” Kindorf said. “We want to at least bring home one medal each year.”