Pittsburgh Sprints (Crew)

Boden Sumerlin, Staff Writer

For quite some time, I have been attempting to write a story about the NA Rowing team. Unfortunately, not all seasons go as planned. This year, the team has dealt with race cancellations, faulty results, and a general lack of time between races at regattas. Instead, I will walk you through the day of a rower on one of the most stressful days of their year–a spring regatta.

The sport of rowing typically indicates a very early wake up time. Sometimes, rowers travel to the site of the regatta the night before to ensure they will be on-time the following morning. Luckily, the most recent regatta was located close to home. On the morning of April 29th, NA’s rowing team left the comfort of their homes to leave for an in-state regatta at Moraine State Park.

The day before traveling to the race site, the rowing team packs all equipment needed. This includes boats, oars, tools, spare parts, and everything else that will ensure the equipment is safely secured and travel-ready. The rowers do the work themselves, with coaches, coxswains, and most upperclassmen directing the flow of work to make sure everything is done correctly and on time. 

Once everything is packed and ready, everyone heads home to get a good dinner and a good night of rest. For this last regatta, all rowers had to be at NASH before 6:15 A.M. In the early hours of the morning, the bus departed to Moraine State Park.  Once arrived, all rowers must set up tents, prepare boats to launch, warm up for races, and be prepared to do their first of (possibly) several races of the day. 

Organizing tent materials (unpacking tent, Addy Cooper)
Tent construction being lead by coxswain

Everyone who has even a moment of spare time has a role. It is their job to help teammates who are about to race. Roles include carrying their oars, carrying their water bottles, or assisting  with any needed last-minute checks. Once out on the water, the rowers are wished good luck and sent off to the starting line. 

Area set up for water docking, oars, and boats
Waterdocking for a 2x race (left –>right, Maddie Rodgers, Emily DiDonato, Coach Madison)

The course itself was 1500 meters. Most of the time, the launch site is located near the finish line or the midway point of the course. Rowers must bring their boat to the starting line of the course before the race can start. Those 750-1500 meters to the starting line are to warm up and prepare. If their boat is not at the starting line on time, they will be disqualified immediately. 

Previous 2x warming up
Novice 4+ out on the water, preparing to race.

There are a variety of different ways races are timed, but for now let’s focus on just one–side-by-side races. The name is pretty self explanatory: all the boats line up side by side in different lanes (in this case, the lanes aren’t sectioned off–they’re pretty much invisible, and boat coxswains and bow seats are responsible for remembering them ) and all start at the same time. Once all boats are aligned and the course is fully cleared, all rowers sit ready with their oars buried in the water, engaged and eager for the race to start.

As soon as everyone hears “Row!” or a specific beep from a race official’s megaphone, the boats take off. In most sports, the athletes can see their progress and make their own decisions on what to do next–but in rowing, you’re facing backwards from the finish line. The eyes of the rowers are their coxswain, someone who sits in a small pocket of the boat facing towards the finish line. Boats without a coxswain have a  bow seat, the seat closest towards the finish line who both rows and turns to navigate the course. The race is fast. It’s over before the rowers know it, so any small distance they may be able to gain over the other boats is crucial and must be done as soon as possible.

Once through the finish line, it’s hard to know who got what place. For a lot of times the places are determined by a decimal of a second. Once finished, rowers get a short break before their next race, hop right into their next boat to race, or are done for the day.

A quick break in team NA’s tent, reading Cosmopolitan and Vogue (left          –>right, Sawyer Wright and Athena Huber)

With the results published, North Allegheny’s Rowing Team brought home 13 Gold medals, 10 Silver medals, and 5 Bronze medals! There were 33 events in total, ranging from middle school to Varsity events with all different kinds of boats. Many of the events North Allegheny participated in had 1-3 boats registered, and the results were amazing! NA’s rowing team has added several new medals to their ever-growing collection. Their strong performance this year guarantees this success will continue well into the upcoming years. Be sure to check out and cheer for the North Allegheny rowing team in the races ahead!

Also quick shoutout to Natalie Helffrich and Maddie Rodgers for being awesome photographers!