This year, the Boston College men’s club crew team set out on a mission to prove itself.
With the club program title in its name, it is easy to brush off this group of guys from the BC sports scene. But this team is far greater than its status as a club on campus suggests.
The V8 (varsity eight) is coming off of a huge personal victory at the Head of the Charles Regatta this past fall, in which they finished in 10th place, the best performance at this iconic race in the club’s history.
"In fall racing at the Head of the Charles in 2009 we had two entries, a 15th place finish in the Collegiate Fours, and a 34th in the Collegiate Eight," recounts Tom McShane, A&S '14 and a V8 rower. "This year we finished 10th in the Collegiate Eight and 17th in the Club Eight."
Since the end of the fall season, the team has been working hard, putting in tremendous effort at early morning practices and outside of the boathouse; and its spring season has shown that this hard work has paid off.
It takes a certain chemistry and cohesiveness between the members on the boat for a race to end in success. Rowing by nature is a sport that requires utmost attention to detail and precision. And that is what Sean Fanning, A&S '14, thinks the team has finally achieved.
“This is the best the team has ever been in regards to team chemistry," Fanning says. “After the academic year ended we had really great practices and bonding outside of practice. After a tough start to the season our varsity squad has really come into our own and been able to really get to know each other both in the boat and outside of the boat better than ever before.”
And that chemistry is crucial to compete among the ranks that BC is going against. BC’s crew team is battling some of the top varsity teams in the east on the water. And as a club team, these guys have a lot more to prove.
Some of the athletes they’re racing against on the water have been rowing ever since they could remember. BC’s squad is not composed of guys that have been training like robots all their lives--it's made up of guys who wholeheartedly love to row. And in some cases, guys who just picked up the sport nonetheless.
It is that love that is driving BC’s crew program to success this spring season. Although there are always bumps along the way, the group's ambition trumps those obstacles. The Jesuit Invitational this March brought home 2nd and 3rd place rankings for all boats on the team, including a 2nd place finish for the novice eight.
At the Knecht Cup in April, the Novice Eight and Club 4 brought home silver and bronze medals respectively, with all other crews finishing their races with impressive times.
BC crew hoped to continue this string of successes in the American Collegiate Rowing Association’s (ACRA) National Championships.
It's safe to say they did just that.
The freshmen raced today for the chance to win the N8 (novice eight) Grand Championship, while the varsity boats continued to trudge forward in their hopes to go for the gold in their heat, despite a few setbacks earlier in the weekend.
Those concerns were definitely addressed among the V8 crew, and it showed in its final results on Sunday.
The team finished its season off with a fifth place finish in the B final, an impressive showing for a club team. The rest of the sculls finished out strong as well, with 2V and 2X (sculls with two rowers) winning their B final by open water, and N8 finishing 6th in grand finals.
"The varsity came into ACRA's ranked 10th and the freshmen were ranked 6th this year," McShane says. "This is a testament to the coaching tandem of Geordie Coffin (varsity) and Brendan Mulvey (associate head coach and incoming head coach) over the past four years together."
This chemistry and drive that the team has developed hopes to continue for the rest of the spring season and for years to come, and much of that group dynamic has been attributed to the departing seniors.
“They are the first class in the nearly 30 year history of our club to demonstrate the ability to compete at a high level for four years,” Fanning elaborates. “They really led the charge that revitalized this program and as a junior I am proud to say I can follow in their footsteps and continue to lead the team to future successes.”
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Feature image courtesy of bccrew.org.