CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — One of the most overlooked sports in the region is getting national recognition.
Hampton Roads has 15 scholastic crew teams. It’s an expensive sport and the financial burden falls on the team.
Like most sports, rowing takes discipline, dedication and passion. Several rowers from the Chesapeake boathouse have ranked no. 1 in the state. Their coaches tell 10 On Your Side to keep up the momentum, they’re in need of a new dock.
“All of our support comes from parent dues and from donations,” said Hickory head coach Chris Stevans.
It’s a necessary $50,000 upgrade so the Hickory and Great Bridge crew teams can practice safely and keep striving for gold.
“We’ve replaced boards and hardware, hinges and screws. Every summer we’re doing something on it, but the underside is starting to get soft and the floats are starting to get a little more waterlogged. It’s time to replace it,” Stevans stated. “Chesapeake Public Schools isn’t going to pay for a team for every school so it’s entirely club level and it’s entirely schools that want to make this happen. So for us, only Hickory and Great Bridge have crew teams.”
For 22 years, the award-winning teams have hit the dock at Atlantic Yacht Basin before dawn, now navigating slippery and loose wooden planks that often flood after a strong storm.
“It was not designed to last as long as we have been using it,” said Claire Conner, a Hickory sophomore.
Conner started rowing four years ago and fell in love with the sport and the atmosphere out on the water, going on to win a state title.
“It’s the mental strength that really makes or breaks the good rowers from the great rowers,” Conner explained.
Great Bridge senior Zoe Eberle, another state title winner, will soon travel to nationals in Camden, New Jersey.
“It is rigorous. You wake up around 4:30 in fall/winter and you get here by 4:55 and you are running down by 5 a.m. This sport teaches you a lot. It’s hard. You’re going to cry. You’re going to bleed. There’s going to be a lot of blisters involved. No one sees what you do. The work that’s done when no one’s watching. No one sees you get up at 4 a.m,” Eberle stated.
It’s a sport that hides in the shadows.
“It kind of hides in the peripheries, in the creeks and inlets away from major traffic areas,” Stevans said.