Beach Channel Crew Rows to The Finish Line
For the 35 members of the Beach Channel High School Crew, the only rowing team in New York City, pride and enjoyment of the sport emanates from all of the team. The team believes when they go to a regatta (rowing match) in Long Island, New Jersey or even upstate New York against larger private and public schools with 100 members, they have as great a chance to win any event.
Chris Horn is in his third year as head coach and seventh overall at Beach Channel explained the many requirements for the 35 members of the team. "We’re looking for students to remain academically eligible, willing to make the commitment, all the races are in weekends and practices are late".
Some of the team had different reasons for joining.
"One of my friends told me it was fun and to keep in shape for the summer", said Christopher Stephen, a rower on the team
Christine King, a rower on the team said, "I knew we were the only team in New York City. I wanted join. It’s a very different sport. I ‘ve never been in the water and I was always scared and I’m not scared of it anymore."
For Nicole Pierce, even with her past swimming experience, rowing did not come easy. "It’s such a different sport than what I’m used to. I just did not get it first", Pierce remembers laughingly.
By now the team knows how much dedication it takes to compete. If one member of the team is missing from any four or eight person rowing boat teams, it can affect timing and the performance for both practice and regattas. Each practice the team has is like a journey. The team will leave the school at 2 p.m. on a given day and head to Mill Basin near Floyd Bennett Field for practice.
Now, you might say why, doesn’t the team practice right behind the school where a dock is located. The problem is that Jamaica Bay is not conducive to practice. And due to the terrible weather the last three months, there have been only a few outside practices and have had to stay indoors.
The team won’t finish until 6 or 6:30 p.m. Once the team is done, they must carry the boats from the water at least a half-mile to the boathouse. Though it can become taxing, the effort and commitment has always been there. For Tiffany Giovannielli, the effort has been great for her academically with scholarship opportunities and for personal reasons. "I like practicing late I know when I first joined, this was going to be a challenge. And these fast few years I made this number one. I find crew to be a positive escape."
All of the obstacles though have not stopped this team from winning. Even with only three practices under their belt, the novice boys won a bronze medal at Hempstead Lake. "It was a great accomplishment", said Horn.
The team has won seven medals in the regattas that have participated in with the boys and girls rowing teams winning silver and bronze medals. One experience on May 10 embodies the fighting spirit of the Dolphins. Chris Horn damaged his knee playing deck hockey and he was the only person who could drive the boats and other equipment to the New York State regatta championships in Saratoga. Since Horn could not travel, the team traveled with assistant coach Scott Olson and parents without their equipment.
When they arrived to Saratoga and the other schools were told of Beach Channel’s problem, the other schools graciously lent their equipment. "15 schools offered their equipment and we borrowed boats and that’s the kind of sport it is", said Horn. "People know the challenges of just getting to a regatta and if they can help you out, they can help out. It’s a gentleman’s sport". The team went on to win a bronze medal in the Boys Novice 4 regatta.
The team appreciates help from Councilman Joseph Addabbo, Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer and others to fund their efforts. It takes a lot of money for rental vans, boat equipment and other things for the crew. The team does fundraisers by selling candy to raise funds, which helps since the school is limited with its funds.
The crew has been rewarding for Priscilla Head, a senior and a coxin, which is navigator at the front or end of the boat. It’s helped me get organized and I’m now able to do more things." For Chris Horn, it’s been a rewarding experience. "My major goals this season was to win a medal in the states and we did. We trained new oarsman for the future of the team and I think we met our goals."