Inside look: Scranton crew team

RALPH PETAGNA
Sports Correspondent

submitted photo: Matt Horn THE MEN’S crew team engages in team bonding at the Roba Family Farms in North Abington during its fall season in October. Junior Ralph Petagna (second row, second from left) will be president of the club team next semester. He and other crew team members reflect on their experiences on the team.

submitted photo: Matt Horn
THE MEN’S crew team engages in team bonding at the Roba Family Farms in North Abington during its fall season in October. Junior Ralph Petagna (second row, second from left) will be president of the club team next semester. He and other crew team members reflect on their experiences on the team.

Junior rower on the men’s crew team Matt Horn summed up the dynamic of one of The University’s few club sports when he said,

“Being on the crew team is about so much more than rowing boats.”
On the surface, the crew team may appear to simply consist of a group of high school athletes who could not make it in college sports and therefore looked for an activity to keep themselves busy while in school. However, those familiar with the inner workings of the team will attest to the comaraderie and teamwork on which the Scranton crew team prides itself.

The team’s success rests not only on individual contribution, but mainly on a boat of teammates rowing in perfect synchronization and giving 110 percent for the entirety of the race.

Mark Shork, a sophomore in his first year with the team, said teamwork is crucial.

“Every practice, your teammates push you to your limit. Not only because they want to make the best team possible, but because they want to see you become the best that you can be,” he said.

The motivation to do our best and work hard comes solely from our teammates, not from a coach or mentor. An interesting fact about the crew team, of which many people are unaware, is that the club is completely student-run. There is no coach or moderator to organize or lead the team in its regular events, but only a group of four officers supported by a willing and hard-working team. The president and vice president mainly handle the logistical aspects of the team, such as registering boats for races, arranging transportation, managing the club’s finances and general team planning and organizational tasks.

The captain and assistant captain are responsible for the rowing side of the club, creating practice schedules and workouts, setting lineups for races and motivating the team. As one can expect, a great deal of responsibility falls on the officers, as they have to complete the tasks typically designated to a coach. However, with the support of our teammates, the officers are able to continue the organization’s success.

The men’s crew team has always been about more than just rowing but about individuals challenging themselves to work toward a common goal together. Almost anyone who has been on a crew team will inform you that rowing is undoubtedly the most physically demanding sport or activity they have ever done. It means waking up before the sun rises to drive to the lake for practice or pushing your body to the point of collapse during workouts on the erg. These are not activities many people would take up on their own; it takes a supportive group of people around you, enduring the same trials, to push you through the tough times. You form a sort of brotherhood with the other rowers, and the club becomes not just a group of teammates but a group of best friends.

As first-year rower Harry Helbock puts it, “You will never find such a tight-knit community elsewhere.”

The bond formed between members of the men’s crew team typically leads to lifelong friendships. Although the club itself is just under 20

years old, it has a built a solid alumni network over the years. Teammates become best friends, and these friends often go on to remain in contact or even live with one another after college.

Furthermore, Scranton Crew alumni are always willing to give back to the team in any way possible and often come back to races and team events. There remains a kind of consistent continuity from year to year on the team, even between those who have graduated and those still in school. The experience on this team will follow its members in everything they do.

Senior captain Brian Lavado said his experiences on the crew team will have a lasting impact on him after his time on the team.

“The relationships I have made and the lessons I have learned from crew will follow me for the rest of my life. I cannot imagine my experience at Scranton if I had not joined the team. It was the best decision I have ever made,” he said.

It is safe to say that the Scranton men’s crew team serves as a unique and influential part of the lives of all its members, both past and present. It will continue to grow and thrive, all while maintaining the common bond and brotherhood that make the team so special.

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