Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the Oregon club rowing team is one of the most storied programs on campus. However, raising the necessary funds to maintain equipment and send athletes to different races across the country can present challenges.
This past Saturday, the team hosted its annual “Erg-A-Thon” to raise awareness of the program while engaging with students and members of the community.
“Having the support of the community is so special to us,” team president Hali Meyer said. “Being able to show people what we’re passionate about and share that experience with them is very rewarding.”
Last year, the Erg-A-Thon successfully hit its goal of rowing 4.2 million meters — the distance it takes to get to Georgia, where the national championships are located. However, the high target goal required the event running late. Additionally, some members of the team rowed over 50,000 meters, which sidelined them from practice that next week.
On Saturday, the team successfully reached 2 million meters, this year’s goal. Overall, the team rowed 2,126,324 meters.
“It’s great to have others helping us out, including some alumni,” junior Sherman Tran said.
Those alumni contributed 550,190 meters to help the team reach its goal.
“You’re all pushing yourselves to your physical limits,” said sophomore Leslie Smith. “It’s really awesome to see so many people that come and support us.”
Each member of the team averaged around 30,000 meters in the event and, according to Meyer, the team raised about $1,600 on Saturday. The Erg-A-Thon also gives the team a publicity boost.
“We are hoping to spend the money on members who do not have the funds to pay for travel to regattas in the spring, as well as some repairs for our boats,” said Meyer.
When it comes to finances, the team faces unique challenges. The Ducks compete against Division I schools in the Pac-12 Championships but don’t receive funding comparable to their opponents. Costs like airfare, hotels and gasoline add up quickly, creating a major obstacle.
“It’s a hard sport, because dues get to be pretty high,” said Smith. “We don’t want to limit students who can’t join because they can’t afford it.”
For the second straight year, the event was held on the midtown courts at the Student Recreation Center. Dozens of rowing machines lined the court, and anyone who wanted to row was allowed to help meet the goal of 2 million meters.
“We’re really grateful for all the support we get,” said Smith. “The Erg-A-Thon in general — we get the attention and it attracts people to us.”
The program continues to focus on building a successful program accessible for students.
“Being a team that is student-run allows us to realize our potential and take pride in our accomplishments,” said Meyer.
Follow Cole Kundich on Twitter @ckundich