On Saturday mornings, most students grabbing a bite at the Student Life Pavilion tend to resemble extras from Night of the Living Dead, shuffling around in sweat pants and hoodies. But for members of men and women’s crew, Saturday brunch is about refueling. By 11 a.m. they’ve already spent four hours rowing 20 kilometers.
It takes a special type of student athlete to commit to crew: How about waking up before dawn for team workouts every other day? But crew members find the experience well worth any personal sacrifice.
“It’s hard to balance school with the demands of a year-round Division I sport,” senior Katharine Petrich admits. “Going to class sweaty, tired, and smelling like Mission Bay isn’t generally considered a high point. But the benefits far outweigh the other stuff.”
Beyond perks like full access to training facilities and help with schoolwork, Petrich enjoys the bonding that comes with being a member of crew. “I get to spend 20 hours a week with 30 of my closest friends,” she says. Junior James Arndt agrees. He says that crew helps keep his life balanced. “Having a precise practice schedule gives my life a pattern.”
The level of dedication that athletes like Petrich and Arndt have put forth has allowed USD to be a perennial threat among top-25 crew teams. Men’s Crew competed against the best teams in the nation in the San Diego Crew Classic this past March, and Men’s Rowing raced in the prestigious Copley Cup against national powerhouses Stanford and Cal. The women dominated in the Crew Classic, winning the Cal Cup and recently racing to within a boat length of 12th ranked UCLA.
“What it comes down to on race day is how much work your team has done to prepare, and how much pain your boat is willing to endure,” explains Petrich.
That, and being ready to demonstrate an answer to the question that Arndt says he and his teammates continually ask one another: “What have you done today?
FEATURE PHOTO BY USD ATHLETICS