Crew at the College of Charleston is something we seem to all know of, but never really hear about. Nearly everyone has some friend that’s dedicated enough to be up at 6:15 am with the team almost every morning, and who seems to be training every minute of the day. And yet, once the interest meetings are over, there’s nothing: no talk about their meets and relatively nonexistent coverage of the team.
“You will train as hard as any varsity athlete, but you won’t get the recognition, “ crew Coach Travis Landrith told the packed room of potential rowers at Wednesday’s information meeting. “The only people who will recognize your achievements are in this room.”
It’s easy to understand his frustration. After all, millions of dollars are spent on the collegiate sports, such as basketball and soccer, and yet crew, after 22 years, is still labeled as a club sport. Landrith, who is a ’96 graduate of the College who rowed for five years with the team, has had his fair share of frustration with the College’s lack of enthusiasm over crew.
“When I was a freshman at the College, they said ‘by the time you’re a junior, it will probably be a varsity sport’, and they ended up going with equestrian. So over the years it’s been ‘oh, crew’s the next thing, crew’s the next thing’ and it’s happened at other colleges, it just hasn’t happened here,” said Landrith.
The latest frustration came in the form of the College’s newest sport: beach volleyball.
“I know the athletic department wants to keep their money where the big money is, it’s just a money game,” Landrith said. “Even though it’s going to cost them 100,000, and that’s out of the mouth of one of the trainers, to add beach volleyball, they’re adding it as a sport. They had a turnkey sport ready to go; we had equipment, coaches, and athlete, everything…but they picked beach volleyball.”
And while this kind of frustration would be understandable from any sport, it especially hits hard for crew because of the sheer dedication they’ve put into it. Landrith alone has put 6 years into coaching this team on a purely volunteer basis, bearing with the team through every regatta and race, and even bringing his two young sons along to practices to make it work. But that’s not all it takes to keep this group running. The team relies on countless fundraising opportunities and the Crew Alumni Association in order to stay financially afloat.
Financials aside, the team has been successful in their competitions. Bringing home medals from nearly every event they attend, CofC Crew has more than shown their worth to be counted among the collegiate sports at the College. From the Head of the Hooch to the Head of the South, this team has made a name for themselves, and this year will be part of the largest Regatta in the world for the second time: The Head of the Charles.
And yet crew remains hidden in the shadows of the College’s collegiate sports, where it has yet to be accepted. Though their dedication, perseverance, and talent are noted throughout the South East, this team continues to be shunted to the side.
Check out cofccrew.org to learn more about this award winning team or, for those brave souls ready to join the ranks, to find out more about practices and meets.