Frequently Asked Questions
“What if I've never rowed before? Can I still join?”
Of course! 95% of the team had never rowed before coming to UGA. We're looking for tough, fit athletes who want to compete for the University of Georgia. All you have to bring is your ambition. Our rowers played wildly different high school sports: football, cross country, swimming, soccer, basketball, baseball, and hockey. You name it, a rower has done it. What they had in common was a desire to take on a challenge and represent the red and black.
"What is a novice?"
Being a novice means that you are a new rower and that you’ve never rowed before you joined the team. Our coaches teach novices all about the sport from square one, and by the end of the year have the novice squad rowing at a similar level to the Varsity. Our novice squad competes with other novice rowers across the country, and still have opportunities to win medals in their events just like the Varsity. After one year of rowing, all returning novices automatically become Varsity.
"What is a coxswain?"
A coxswain is “the captain of the ship,” so to speak. It’s the person who steers the boat and yells at the rowers, telling them what to do and making sure they are all working together as a unit. They are usually on the smaller side physically, and they are leaders and competitors. Coxswains don’t have to do any of the workouts that the rowers have to do, but they are there to encourage, motivate, and command when they need to, both on and off the water.
"Can you join if you’ve never played a sport before?"
Yes! While most of our team members had a variety of athletic backgrounds before they started rowing, we do have quite a few rowers who were not particularly athletic in high school before joining our team. Some of them did activities such as marching band, which prepared them well for rowing because it involved a large time commitment, and time management can be a skill that’s just as valuable for rowing as any athletic prowess. We are looking for people who are willing to work hard and commit to a team sport, whether they have a strong athletic background or not.
"What does it mean to be a club sport at UGA?"
We are a student-run organization under the competitive sports division of Club Sports. All of our financing and management is done by an officer board of students elected by the team. Rowers pay dues to be members of the team, and the team’s main source of income comes from these dues, as well as a good bit of fundraising that we do throughout the year.
"What does scheduling look like?"
Rowing is definitely a significant time commitment, but the coaches are flexible and make practice times for you based on your existing schedule. Novices who start in the fall are eased into the time commitment that this sport requires since our coaches gradually increase the number of practices required each week. You will likely have two to three water practices a week, which take three to four hours out of the day. These are either held early in the morning or in the afternoon. On days you do not have water practice, you will be completing a workout at Ramsey, and you get an off day or two each week as well.
This time commitment may sound daunting, but many students on our team handle it well, even on top of other responsibilities. It is possible to be successful in school, maintain a job, and row at the same time -- it just takes some hard work and time management skills. Additionally, after rowing for a month or two, many of our students have found that the time they spend rowing becomes a cathartic break from their busy lives rather than another chore on their to-do list.
"Is it true that rowers have to wake up super early every morning?"
Not at all! The stereotype that rowers are up at five a.m. every day is only partly true -- we definitely have to do this sometimes, but for most people, that early alarm doesn’t go off more than two or three times a week. (Sometimes it can be hard to get out of bed, but when you have a morning water practice with a gorgeous sunrise on the lake, it’s worth it.) Our team has lots of workouts and practices in the afternoons, don’t worry!
"When do we race?"
The racing season lasts from September to May, but there aren’t races over the holidays. Our team attends between three and five races every semester. The races occur on Saturdays and depending on the location, we will drive to the race site either the Friday night before or the morning of. We race all over the southeast, in Chattanooga, Augusta, Gainesville, FL, Nashville, Oak Ridge, and even at the 1996 Olympic Course in Gainesville, GA.
"Who do we compete against?"
We race against teams from across the country from New Hampshire to California. Georgia Tech, Clemson, Florida, Vanderbilt, and Alabama just a few of the teams you will compete against throughout the year.
"What is the difference between fall and spring racing?"
Think of fall and spring racing for rowing like the difference between your high school’s cross country and track team -- the fall season involved longer-distance cross country, and the spring was shorter sprint distances.
For rowing, Fall races are called Head Races. They take place on a 5000-meter course, usually on a river, and are done via time trials. Boats go down a river one at a time to try to race the course the fastest, and the times are immediately uploaded online afterward so that everyone can see who medaled.
Spring races are called Sprints. They’re only 2000 meters long (about 7-8 minutes), and they are much faster and very exciting. Boats will be lined up side by side, up to 8 boats across, and race down the course in straight lines together. Our regional competition (SIRA in Oak Ridge, TN) and national competition (ACRA in Gainesville, GA) occur in the spring.
"How much does it cost?"
Dues are about $1,000 for the whole year. Rowers and coxswains pay their dues in 3-4 separate increments throughout each semester, so they don’t have to pay all of the money upfront. Also, our Finance officers are flexible and willing to work with any team members who may have financial difficulties when it comes to paying dues. We are a student-run team, after all — we more than anyone else understand that money can be tight for college students.
"What do dues payments go toward?"
Since our team is a club sport, we don’t get much funding from the school, so most of our budget is supported by the dues we receive from the team. Dues payments are used for all aspects of running the team, including paying our three full-time coaches, buying and maintaining equipment, gas and maintenance of our team truck and trailer, overnight stay and a meal or two for the team on race weekends, and registration fees for all of our races.
"Are there any additional costs?"
Everyone on the team is required to help out with some fundraising throughout the year, but this isn’t something that you will have to pay out of pocket as long as you participate in the fundraiser. Additionally, each spring break the team goes on a week-long training trip to Natchitoches, Louisiana that usually costs about $200-300. This includes a hotel and food for the week and is generally much cheaper than most other spring break trips that college students take.