Posted August 18, 2014 by Andrew
It’s that time of year again, when commuters in Blount County see ETRO athletes in long, thin boats rowing on Fort Loudon Lake under Pellissippi Parkway. Their sleek shells directed by demanding coxswains as their coach motors alongside…shouting words of encouragement and guidance, words of promise.
East Tennessee Rowing Organization is beginning their 10th fall season in the seldom-noticed sport of sweep rowing. This young team has grown dramatically over the past decade, from a team of 8 girls in early 2004 to a team of more than 50 young men and women from five local high schools. Sweep rowing or crew is one of the most physically and mentally demanding of all team sports. It requires resilient mental acuity, exacting physical strength. It demands teamwork on all levels.
“This is the most team oriented sport out of any other athletic activity. In other sports, you can slack off a little or you can have one person be a superstar. But in rowing, you all have to work together. We rely on each other; you can’t have a weak link without hurting the others” states Josh Bostrom, 2014 ETRO Men’s Senior Athlete. “Rowing requires a host of support, from the parents to the coxswain to the coach. Coach Andrew Krug is the all-seeing eye in rowing. Nobody sees the entire picture like the coach does. He’s able to describe what’s going on in each seat and can provide details to help us individually create a cohesive team.” The coxswain’s job is to make sure every member of the boat is in sync and working together. “Contrary to popular belief, the coxswain is not just the person who yells “ROW!!”. The cox is essentially the commander of a vessel. They steer, make the calls, tell you when to go, when to slow down. They move around, scream and motivate each rower to give every last ounce of strength to make the boat powerfully glide through the water, looking effortless and graceful in a bid for total synchronicity, guaranteeing success at the finish line.
It is fitting that ETRO’s 10th year in this competitive sport would be met with success at the collegiate level for ETRO graduating seniors. This is the first year scholarship opportunities are being offered to members of the team. “I’ve received e-mails from Oklahoma State, WVU, Old Dominion University, Navy, Indiana State, University of Portland and several others”, adds Diamond Hurst, 2014 ETRO Senior Athlete. Colleges and universities have been assessing Coach Krug’s team through the 2014 spring and summer sessions, offering some of his athletes full scholarships to row for their NCAA collegiate teams. (Josh) “I’m looking at Jacksonville University and Florida Tech as well as several schools in the Philadelphia area. For guys, it’s a little bit more difficult to achieve a scholarship. But for girls, if you have good grades and are a good rower (sub 8), then you’re almost guaranteed a scholarship.”
Sub 8 refers to the total minutes necessary to complete a 2,000 meter race. Universities require their female recruits to row a 2K in less than 7 minutes; 30 seconds. “Right now, I’m at 7:37, but I’m going sub 7:30 by working hard every day, listening to my coach, completing the CrossFit workouts and strength training”, says Hurst. “Rowing has opened up possibilities for me I never thought I’d have.” Coach Krug confirms, “Our athletes at East Tennessee Rowing are given all of the opportunities they need to succeed. With hard work and dedication any athlete can rise to accomplishments of our Senior Athletes”.
Early predictions for the 2014 fall season look promising for the ETRO squad. The biggest regional competition has been from Sarasota and Miami. However, both teams lost significant contributing seniors last spring. ETRO was fortunate to lose only one graduating senior this year, Matthew Calloway. The team has essentially remained intact and has been working hard throughout the summer in preparation for the fall head races. In regionals last year, ETRO fell short – even having one boat nicknamed “The Molasses Four”.
Diamond predicts this is the year for East TN to gain more exposure and show the rest of the rowing community how the support from family and friends, the collaboration from coaches Erika Lauderdale, Andrew Krug and Cross Fit coach Zack Pratt, as well as the team sponsorship from Drs. Roger and Liz Hubbard have all combined to form a well-oiled machine, poised to win individual and team medals this fall. Josh Bostrom says it all, “During every race, we leave nothing on the water. It is physically and mentally challenging. I love it!”