Crew May Be Habit-Forming
out of bed at 5 in the morning, schlepping droopy-eyed to
the shore of the Connecticut River and taking a hard seat
in a boat in cold water well before the sun rises may not
sound like a preferred way to start the day.
for more than 80 Smith students, members of the
novice and varsity crew teams, it’s the only way.
There’s something about the
crisp early morning air, the sound of river water lapping
against the crew shell, the blare of the coxswain’s voice
and the camaraderie of spending every dawn working hard together
that gets under the skin of those who join crew.
“Imagine sitting at breakfast knowing you have accomplished so much and worked
so hard, even before most of campus even wakes up,” says Karen Klinger ’87, head
crew coach, who spent most her undergraduate mornings that way.
It’s not easy
to explain the appeal to new students arriving on campus at the end of August,
few with crew experience. But Klinger and her team members do their best.
entering first-years line up with their parents, waiting
to enter Central Check-In at the Indoor Track and Tennis
facility, Klinger and her assistants present all the benefits
that accompany joining the Smith crew team—including the shared
experience of learning something new and becoming an athlete, sometimes for the
About 80 percent of Klinger’s new recruits each year have no experience
when they enter Smith. Klinger can relate—when she first arrived at Smith in
1983, she had no idea of the feeling of pulling together in a shell, either.
But, as she has witnessed every
year since becoming the head crew coach in 1997, it doesn’t take long for the sport to occupy an important place in the lives
of many who try it.
“I was a jock when I arrived at Smith,” she recalls, “then I found the sport
that was mine and became an athlete. After rowing and coaching for 28 years,
I still enjoy the thrill of a boat that moves well, of muscles used in unison,
of absolute dependence on teammates.”
When Katharine von Herrman '11
first arrived at Smith, she was looking for a way to stay
in shape for skiing season, as a member of the varsity team.
She was hooked on crew right away and went on to join the
varsity crew team in her sophomore year, competing in the
NCAA Championship tournament.
"I stayed because I loved the
people, the sport, being outside and working together to
push yourself and each other," said Herrman, who remained
a varsity skiier and crew team member throughout her Smith
career, and was named NCAA Woman of the Year this year.
This year’s crew team is excited about competing
at the national level, says Klinger, and bringing in the next generation of team
, Sept. 8, at 5:10 p.m. in Ainsworth
151. All are welcome, and no experience is necessary.
some there, it may be the start of a whole new life.