Men’s Crew Rows Towards Greatness

Since the summer of 1981, the University of Rochester Crew Team has seen over three decades of support and growth.  The team’s historical identity has roots that connect it to both the River Campus and the Greater Rochester Community.  Beginning with just three undergraduates with interest in rowing, the early financial and coaching support from faculty, alumni, and community organizations allowed the team to develop into the competitive force that it is today.

I sat down with Keith McCutcheon ‘16, who is majoring in microbiology, with minors in history, philosophy, and chemistry, and his fellow rower, electrical and computer engineering major Jeremy Warner ’15, to find out more about how the men’s crew team operates.

Prospective new members for both men’s and women’s rowing need not have any prior experience.  “Recruitment is open and very much encouraged for completely inexperienced people,” said McCutcheon.  The rising junior was one of many rowing novices that came into the sport as a novel experience.  “I didn’t row at all in high school, and neither did a majority of the rowing team.”

The team rows out of the Genesee Rowing Club Boathouse, located roughly a mile from the River Campus at the intersection of the Genesee River and the Erie Canal. U of R owns and races a fleet of top quality eights, fours, pairs, doubles, and singles, as well as a dedicated ergometer room in the Athletic Center used during winter training.

This year, the team also gained access to a new, indoor training center on the bottom floor of The Flats at Brooks Crossing.  “We used to be limited to a workout room in the basement of the Goergen Athletic Center, but now we have a swing-u-later, a weight lifting area, and a massive ‘erg’ room,” said Warner.  The original plan promised a new boat house available at Brooks, but due to rushed construction, the plan became unviable.  Instead, the Department of Athletics provided new, top-of-the line equipment for the team’s use.  “It’s a very nice upgrade from where we were before in the basement of the GAC,” said McCutcheon.  “Access to new equipment is a big step forward for both the men’s and women’s programs.”

The head coach of the men’s rowing team is John Burnfield, who used to be the head trainer at River Campus.  “At the Head of the Genesee, the open four is called the John Burnfield trophy. It’s got his name on it,” said McCutcheon.  Burnfield, a renowned local rower, is a driving force that pushes the team to competitive excellence.

Men’s and women’s rowing teams compete in major Fall regattas such as the Head of the Charles and the Head of the Schulykill.  Spring championships include the New York State Championship Regatta, Dad Vails, and the American Collegiate Rowing Association (ACRA) Championship Regatta.

One high-profile regatta the men’s crew team has recently done very well in is ACRAs.  The national competition, held in Gainseville, Georgia, includes an Olympic course.  “It takes place on this gorgeous lake, where the Olympic rings are still up,” said McCutcheon, who credited the course as one of his favorite rowing experiences.  The team competed last May, staying in Rochester even after commencement to train.  “We’ve had some pretty good successes in small boats, especially in pairs,” said McCutcheon.  “We also raced at head of the Charles this year,” he said.  “It’s the second biggest regatta in the world, after the Henley in Thames. The Charles is a longer Head race — head race season takes place in the fall, with sprints in the spring.”

As far as recent races go, the team has been pretty active with its competitive schedule. “This last week, we were at Ithaca, racing against Ithaca College and RIT.  The week before that we were here, racing against St. Lawrence at home. Starting off this spring, we beat St. Lawrence, pretty handily, by a couple lengths of open water, which is a good start to the spring season,” said Warner.  Other races this year have brought the team to the University of Massachusetts Lowell and Worcester where they competed against schools like Colby, Worcester Polytechnic, and Bates.

The month of April found the team competing for the Kerr Cup on the Schuylkill River in Pennsylvania.  The men’s rowing team took home a few individual awards for their performance.  For the first time in history, the team will be going to the Liberty League competition, a race usually reserved for only varsity teams.

When asked about his favorite race of all time, McCutcheon shared a story of one of his first experiences on the team.  “We ended up getting second at one of my first races,” he said, still recalling the toothy grin on his coach’s face.  “It was a very new experience. That’s one of the things about being a novice: you don’t know how good you are, so you often surprise yourself.”

Warner, on the other hand, most valued the network of support that he gained through crew.  “One of the biggest benefits that I’ve gotten from being a part of the crew team is the tight-knit community that I’ve embedded myself into. It speaks to how well you get to know everyone on the team, and how close you become to each other,” he said.  “All of that is external from the actual boats and sports. It’s really nice to have a group of people that I know I can always depend on and talk to for something.”

For more information about the Men’s Crew Team, visit their website.

What Clubs Are You In? Campus Clubs Galore

With over 250 different student organizations to choose from, it’s no wonder that UR undergrads are always so busy!  The many opportunities offered by the various clubs and sports provide the campus population an outlet to share their interests and channel their passions. Listed below are some examples of the diverse and involved undergrads that embody the quintessentially Rochester student body.

blucrew

Name: Alyssa Wolf
Major: Epidemiology
Class Year: 2015
“I’m in Blue Crew. Blue Crew is a school sports spirit organization. We go to sporting events, and we cheer a lot and scream.  We go to games for basketball, football, soccer, field hockey, and cross country.

Name: Nicholas Scacchetti
Major: Chemical Engineering
Class Year: 2015
“I’m with the American Institute of Chemical Engineering here on campus. Right now, I’m heading up the ChemE car competition, where we build a small car to run in a competition that runs off a chemical reaction. We’re going to be building a hydrogen fuel cell car. We have all the parts and we’re putting it together right now.”

Name: Will Burns
Major: Business
Class Year: 2015
“I Rock Climb. I got into it when I was younger, and I wanted to continue it into college.”

Colleges against Cancer

Name: Julia Weisman
Major: Psychology and Business
Class Year: 2018
“The CAC (Colleges against Cancer) does a lot of advertising about certain types of cancer. Each month is focused on a different disease. We are focusing on lung and pediatric cancer; it was breast cancer month in October. We have lots of different events going on. We have had dinners in Douglass, and we do fun things on campus. We just like to promote awareness of the disease.”

Dance

Name: Dan Hoffman
Major: Music
Class Year: 2015
“I’m not in a club because I spend so much time dancing. That in itself is almost like an extracurricular thing, and I’m always choreographing and working with dancers in other classes. I just don’t have time for clubs.”

Name: Horacio Quezada
Major: Undeclared
Class Year: 2018
“I’m in a couple of them. One is called Salsita, which is part of a major organization called SALSA. It’s a leadership club, we learn about leadership positions. I’m also in Newman, which is the Catholic community here on campus. In Salsita, I’m the business manager.”

BPG

Name: Orkhan Abdullayev
Major: Chemical Engineering
Class Year: 2016 (Grad Student)
Club: BPG is the Ballet Performance Group, it is a club that is dedicated to preserving classical technique on campus, as well as allowing students to choreograph their own pieces in a variety of styles such as contemporary, jazz, hip-hop, and tap.

Name: Carola Figueroa
Major: Biology
Class Year: 2016
Club: Yes, I’m in Alpha Phi Omega, it’s a community service fraternity. I’m also in the Society of Undergraduate Biology Students. I joined APO because I love service.

Name: Evan Mclaughlin
Major: Computer Science
Class Year: 2016
“I’m in Chi Phi fraternity. I was the secretary last year which was fun. I did all the paper pushing in the background.”

Track & Field

Name: Bobbi Spiegel
Major: Health, Behavior, and Society
Class Year: 2017
“I’m on the varsity track team, and I’m on grass roots. I’m also involved in Jewish life, like Chabad and Hillel. For track, we have practice six days a week, because the NCAA mandates that we have one day off. Once we hit January 1st, we have a meet every weekend until the end of school. We actually stay past the end of school, because our meets go into late May/ early June. It’s a big dedication, since we also have weight room time. My main event is long jump. I also sprint and do triple jump.”

Name: Alex Samuelson
Major: Neuroscience and Political Science
Class Year: 2017
“I’m in Delta Gamma, one of the sororities here on campus.  What we’re doing right now is supporting our philanthropy, which is Service for Sight, which supports blinded veterans who have been wounded, and also their families. We’re selling bracelets for the blinded veterans’ association, and later, we’re going to have an event, this coming Saturday, where we wrap gifts for the families of soldiers who are currently deployed.

mariachiName: Marcia Des Jardin
Major: Molecular Genetics
Class Year: 2015, 2016T5
“UR Mariachi is really cool group of people. I don’t speak Spanish at all, but I sing in Spanish. It’s a lot of fun to get out of your comfort zone, and get to know people you wouldn’t necessarily know before. You can play violin, guitar, bass, trumpet, flute, accordion – whatever you want, just come to our rehearsals on Wednesday at 4:30.”

Name: Molly Goldstein
Major: Music, BCS
Class Year: 2017
“This past weekend, the Frisbee team actually went to Montreal, and we had a tournament there. We did pretty well. We won a few games and had a lot of fun. It was a very rewarding experience with the team. It’s a nice balance between being very serious about our playing, but also having a good time on the field as well.”

Name: Hadley Brown
Major: English Language/Media Communications, Psychology
Class Year: 2015
“For U of R’s Alpha Phi organization, I’m actually the parental and alumni affairs coordinator, so I work a lot with outreach to the outside community, trying to bring them back to the school, get some school spirit, and to introduce the girls to some people they can network with after college.”

Name: Milagros Garcia
Major: Psychology, English language/Media Communications
Class Year: 2017
SALSA, the Spanish & Latino Students Association, is basically a community, you don’t have to be Hispanic of any type to join, basically, we just discuss issues that affect the Latin-American community as well as try to make ourselves known that we’re a part of campus.

Sihir

Name: Liza Gerwig
Major: BCS
Class Year: 2016
Sihir is the belly dancing group, and it’s really fun.  There’s a lot of cool, wacky people, and we do cool, fancy things, and put on nice shows.”

Name: Shelby Corning
Major: Environmental Science
Class Year: 2017
“I’m on the varsity Softball team. We went to nationals last spring for the first time in school history, which was really cool. It was a big step for the program. I’m a left fielder.”

Name: Rachel Milner
Major: Biology
Class Year: 2015
“The Strong Jugglers were formed in 1995, and we started off as a bunch of kids who went over to Strong Memorial Hospital to juggle for the patients. It’s evolved into a fine circus and performing arts organization. We like to perform on and off-campus. It’s very casual: anyone can join!”

Name: Duncan Graham
Major: Economics
Class Year: 2015
Mock Trial is a club that does what the name implies, we put on trials. There are attorneys, there are witnesses, and we compete with schools across the east coast and the south. We’re even thinking of going to California. We compete, we have attorneys, witnesses, and it’s a whole lot of fun.”

ArcheryName: Allison Colarusso
Major: Chemical Engineering
Class Year: 2016
Archery right now: we shoot arrows… at targets.”

Name: Paul Gabrys
Major: Chemical Engineering
Class Year: 2014, 2015T5
Newman Community is where people who identify as Catholic want come together to grow as a community.”