The Fairfield rowing team is poised to have one of its best years in school history.  According to members of the team, the roster is the finest it’s ever been, causing excitement and feelings of victory in the rowers.

“This is actually the fastest our team has been in four years,” said Cameron Shalkowski ’15. “We did well in the fall, and I think we’re even faster than we were in the fall, so we’re going to do even better in the spring.”

Senior Sam Sullivan echoed the sentiment, saying, “I think this is the fastest we’ve been, not only in the past four years, but in Fairfield history. We’ve never had a bigger squad, we’ve never had the volume that we have, we’ve never had the coaching that we have now and we’ve never gotten the recognition that we’ve been getting. I think that spirits are high, and people are really hungering for [the upcoming spring] season.”

This year’s team is a young one. Though the roster does have some senior leaders, it is mostly composed of underclassmen (14 freshmen and 10 sophomores), requiring some of the younger faces to step up and take charge. Senior Luke Auger feels like it is his responsibility to lead by example, inspiring the next wave of leaders.

“To be a leader on the team, you don’t necessarily have to be the fastest, but it does kind of set a precedent. You have a lot of people trying to chase you and chase your times so it’s up to you to stay there and keep pushing people,” he said.

Coach David Patterson wants everyone on his team to be a leader, explaining that such a thing is necessary for a successful spring season.

“We have a program where freshmen make contributions right away. We don’t take in freshmen for a development program; we send them right to the front line,” he said, adding that, “senior leadership is great and we value it, but we demand leadership all the way through.”

As rowing is a very team oriented sport, the slightest lack of effort from any of the rowers can result in a loss for everyone else. As such, all of the team members are required to lead by example, or risk losing the race.

Shalkowski echoed this, saying that rowing “is always for the team, because with rowing, if a boat is not together or in sync, it just doesn’t work.”

Because of the bad weather the Northeast has been having, the team has been unable to get into the water and practice outside. This has forced the team to continue to practice inside, which necessitates getting up very early and doing repetitive exercises.

However, despite these hardships, the members of the team feel that it is all worth it.

“It’s a lot tougher staying inside since it’s cold outside in the morning and we don’t really want to get up … once we get on the water, everything is worth it. All the indoor practices and waking up early, it’s worth it,” Jaclyn Ozyjowski ‘17 said.

Patterson likes what he sees from the team. Though he admits that the indoor training that the team is currently enduring is “long, arduous and torturous,” he is happy with his team’s effort. He feels that the team has the potential to achieve great things, and knows that they will work and contend as hard as they can.

With such an exciting roster and season on the way, the crew team definitely warrants watching. Keep an eye out for their first race, which takes place on Saturday, March 14 in Camden, N.J.

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