The men’s rowing team went from almost medaling in the New England Rowing Championships last year to not having a team this semester. A few men have been working toward creating a team and being ready to compete this coming spring.
“We did really well [last year],” said Chris Bowdler (‘19), who transferred to Clark with the intention to row last spring. “There were only four of us, but we actually came in fourth in New England’s and that was by less than a second and a half.”
The team graduated one senior last spring, and another crew member is graduating in December. On top of that, Michael McDonald, the head crew coach, is also the coach for the women’s team. Thaddeus Gumula, who was the men’s coach last year, is now the men’s assistant coach.
“Coach McDonald, since he came, has been building it up specifically for the women,” Bowdler said. “Unfortunately, the men’s team has sort of tangled off the past couple years.”
However, the teams have different needs and skillsets, and their performance in practices and races vary.
“They [the women’s team] are a team that practices well and then they’d show up and have sort of off days during the races,” Bowdler said. “We [the men’s team] are a team that doesn’t always practice well but showed up race day and we’d do really well.”
The women’s team may be growing faster, however, because they are governed by NCAA, while the men’s team is not.
Looking to the future, Bowdler spoke of starting practices soon and hopefully competing in the spring.
“Right now, it’s just getting people interested in the sport,” said Bowdler, who has been in charge of recruiting and reaching out to people.
“The tough thing about crew is that there is no off-season,” Bowdler said. “It’s not a fun sport. It’s a lot of hard work.”
Crew practices are six days a week and can last as long as two hours, according to Bowdler. The team practices in the spring on Lake Quinsigamond, which Bowdler called one of the premiere rowing locations in Massachusetts.
“Because of the NCAA rules, we have 19 weeks throughout the year that we can practice,” he said.
In the past, the 19 weeks have been split between the fall and the spring. But due to there not yet being a full team, there have been no practices for the men’s crew team so far this year. The plan is for the team is to begin training in two weeks and then continue training all throughout the spring semester.
During the winter, practices are indoors. Members practice rowing on the “ergs,” or rowing machines.
“That will be anywhere from 40 minutes of faster work to 75 to 90 minutes of longer work, depending on the day and what the program is,” Bowdler said.
Races, such as those in the New England Rowing Championships, are a mere six minutes long.
“It’s a lot, a lot of work for six minutes of brutal racing,” Bowdler said.
But if the team doesn’t get more members, there will be no races this year.
“We won’t be competing at all. We won’t be practicing, training,” Bowdler said. “Basically, we’d be done.”
However, Bowdler has hope.
“I think there’s a lot of potential to do a lot of good,” he said, adding that anyone interested in the team can contact him via email at [email protected].