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As part of the inaugural Eastern Christian School Crew season, the EC ladies rowing team, affectionately dubbed, “The Blue Crew,” took to practice for the first time this season. The long stretches of flat water required for the sport proved to be a difficult hurdle for the launch of the program, but that didn’t stop EC Athletic Director Barry Veenstra from being his typical creative self.
“A typical rowing race requires 2,000 meters of uninterrupted, waveless water,” said Veenstra. “Since that’s a natural feature not readily available in our area, the closest thing we could come up with was right down the street at Oldham Pond.” Veenstra added, “We also considered practicing in the slop water in the bottom of the Haledon Quarry, but there was a lot of red tape in the way there.”
At their home water of Oldham Pond, the Blue Crew, EC’s varsity coxed quadruple scull, is required to turn their craft every 13 strokes in order to go back the other direction. And this watercraft isn’t exactly built for turning. But, in the typical “can do” spirit of Eastern Christian School, the team can’t wait for their first home meet.
“We’ve been practicing our turning technique for days now, said Crew team captain Alyssa Botbyl. “In a competition, other schools will have no idea how to turn their scull. We’re down to only 12 minutes per turn!”
The 598 foot facility, less than one tenth the distance of a typical race, has proven to be a challenge in other ways as well. “We’re constantly dodging geese, great blue herons, egrets, even the occasional errant fishing lure from an exuberant local fisherman,” said Botbyl. “But as coach always yells to the back of the boat, those obstacles just make us stronger as a team. Every goose we dodge represents another stoke toward victory!”
Athletic Director Barry Veenstra appreciated the team’s spirit and hinted at even more uses for Oldham Pond in the future. “Who knows, maybe you’ll see more Eagles water sports in the future,” pondered Veenstra. “Water polo, swimming, even competitive bass fishing. The sky’s the limit when it comes to Oldham Pond! Well… the sky and that dam at the end of it. In another sense, that dam is quite a legitimate limit as well.”
For more information on ways to support the Crew program at EC, click here to visit the EC Crew official webpage.