The Middletown High School Crew team boasted 100 percent turnout for its seventh annual ergathon on Saturday. The athletes split into four-person groups and rowed for 12 hours. Despite the blisters and sore muscles, spirits were high although their fundraising goal was not met.
Senior captain Tyler Sheil reported, “It’s so much fun. It’s great to get donations and have a bonding event where we get to spend 12 hours together.”
“It is a good time for the kids, but it’s hard,” said next season’s head coach, Wendy Sheil. “In this economy people are just tapped out but our school is behind the times with revamping boats. Our two newest boats are already 5 years old and the other six boats have been on the water for over a decade.”
Captains Kyle Breton and Amber Drew concur that new vessels would make a huge difference in speed, comfort, and winning.
A new boat costs an average of $30,000 while the crew sports budget is the same as other sports teams in town. “I have 74 kids on the roster this year,” stated coach Beth Shapiro, “and I only had money in the budget for 20 uniforms. Although we’d love to save for a new boat, we end up spending our money for parts and repairs to the old ones.”
Although captains Zoe Kaplin and Morgan Feshler have their own ideas about how to utilize the funds raised today, the money has been earmarked for oars and safety suits for the coxswains. The coaching staff is hopeful that additional money will be donated so the team will be able to purchase new computerized cox boxes. The current systems they use are extremely outdated.
When asked why the city of Middletown should support such an expensive sport, Sheil had a ready answer. “The crew team has been around since 1971. It is the only program that uses our city’s greatest resource, the Connecticut River. We have families on the riverbank from March to June and August thru November. There is also a high opportunity for college scholarships out there because not every high school has a rowing team. In the very least it can get you the attention of a college rowing coach. Add to that the rowing culture is unique. Our kids are exposed to teams from all over the world when we attend the Boston Head of the Charles.”
Captain Jack Winter spoke of the crew team’s family type spiritual connection. “When all eight people in the boat get the technical and rush ratio right and that boat starts soaring through the water, it’s like nothing else ever experienced.”
Ideally the team hopes to get a corporate sponsor to commit to donating $5,000 per year for six years to purchase a boat. Then again, being a 40-year old team, perhaps if every alumnus sent in a $15 donation it would give the rowers the financial boost they need to keep up with the affluent towns they race, such as Avon, Simsbury, and Glastonbury.
If you would like to make a donation to the crew team, please make out your check to MHS Booster Club – CREW and mail it to attn: Beth Shapiro, Middletown High School 200 LaRosa Lane Middletown, CT 06457.