Usually, spring break is a time students look forward to, but not rowers
BETHESDA, MARYLAND — Bethesda Chevy Chase high school’s rowing club uses their spring break as the bulk of their spring training. Head Coach Dan lovingly calls spring break’s schedule the team’s “bread and butter”: three practices a day, with long breaks in between.
The student-athletes have to take spring break seriously – at the beginning of the school year, they sign a contract saying they understand that if they don’t show up to practice during break, they run the risk of coming back and not having a seat on the boat.
“I try and make it clear from the beginning that spring break is a huge deal,” Head Coach Dan said. “Practices are so condensed if a rower misses out on that, they’re basically missing the equivalent of three weeks of regular training. That will set them back ridiculously far behind everyone else.”
Coach Dan oversees the entire team but puts most of his effort in with the varsity boys. He’s also an English teacher at the high school, which gives him the unique ability among the coaches to keep an eye on the athletes.
The rowing club team is unique among the school for having strict grade requirements for its athletes. No one is allowed to train or compete with less than a 2.0 GPA.
Usually, spring break is a time students look forward to. The kids on BCC Crew have mixed feelings.
“We have to be up at the boathouse by 6:30 in the morning,” Men’s Varsity Senior Captain Andrei Pinkus said. “That means the equipment is ready and we can hit the water, so we really should be getting there about 6 in the morning so all that gets done on time.”
Coaches also have to put their lives on hold for the extra practices. Not all of them have such understanding jobs. For the most part, BCC Crew’s coaches are teachers or work in education.
“Being a rowing coach doesn’t pay super well, but it’s not about the money,” Freshman Girl’s coach Jesse Burns said. “I fell in love with rowing in college, and I wanted to pass that love on to others.”
“My main job is in realty,” Freshman Boy’s Assistant coach Stuart Young said. “But I look forward to 3 o’clock in the afternoon every day because that’s when I can get on the water with the boys.”