AUGUSTINE CLASSICAL ACADEMY, MECHANICVILLE, NY
This spring our school’s rowing team qualified its largest team ever to the Scholastic National Championship when 14 rowers in 5 events cranked out bid winning performances at our State Championship. While at Nationals that team of athletes, which represents more than half of the 20 high school-aged students in our school, hauled in two national titles in the Junior Girls Double and the Lightweight Boys Double, a bronze in the Freshman Girls Quad, a 4th place finish in the Senior Girls Double, and a 10th place finish in the Junior Boys Quad. This photo shows the whole team on the shores of Dillan Lake, OH, after the first win in the finals and moments after the frosh girls returned from their against-all-odds, come-from-behind bronze medal finish.
—Matthew Hopkins, Head of School
Headmaster Matthew Hopkins is a big advocate for scholastic rowing at classical schools. The list below from Hopkins describes how rowing is unique and how it benefits both individuals and communities, and provides tips for those who might want to start a team.
The Benefits of Rowing
– Rowing competes with a variety of events using boats from as small as a single to as large as an 8-person, so even the smallest schools can mix it up on the national/state level.
– It is not tied up with the typical state school athletic associations that often forbid non-member schools from participating. There is opportunity for all schools to compete.
– Contrary to assumptions, it is remarkably affordable. Our kids compete in hand-me-down boats from college teams that we buy for pennies on the dollar. Yes we have to invest time and energy in maintenance, but the pay off is massive.
– By overnighting at a Christian college along the way and sleeping on church Sunday school room floors during the race we were able to do the above trip (meals, transport, and entry fees ) for less than $100 per kid.
– We fund our program through donations and then renting our equipment out over the summer (this brings in around $8K a summer and keeps us floating).
– It is a life time sport. The majority of rowers in America are adults. This is a sport where opportunity to compete and participate grow over a lifetime unlike many scholastic sports which are dead ends once a kid graduates from high school.
– The college recruiting for rowing is off the charts. There are just not enough scholastic teams to supply the collegiate teams. It is not uncommon for collegiate coaches to offer full rides to ex-swimmers or volleyball players who have never touched an oar. (Check out the athlete bios for either Kansas State or University of Kansas. There are not many there who rowed in high school.)
– We have a 25% NCAA D1 recruitment rate among graduates at our school.
– If you look at just our athletes, that rate goes up to around 40%.
– While the race events are separated by gender, we are able to be very efficient and train all of our kids together; you can do a lot with only one coach.
According to Hopkins, “I say all this to hopefully encourage other schools to give it a try. It seems that Covenant on the North Shore of Boston is exploring starting up a rowing team out of Gordon College’s boathouse, so there is hope. We truly long for the day when we show up at a national race and can cheer for another ACCS school … even if they are beating us!”