A River Runs Through Beach Channel Crew Season
On a weekday afternoon, the Beach Channel Crew team goes through their normal routine during the spring season. They'll gather outside the school at 1:30 or 2:30 in the afternoon, hop in a school bus and be driven over to Floyd Bennett Field. They'll walk through a muddy path to their old World War II ammunition shed turned boathouse.But instead of getting ready to carry their shells and prepare for another warm spring practice, last Tuesday was a day to reflect and store away their equipment as their crew season recently concluded.
A crew team has to mix many different personalities into a cohesive working unit. With hardwork and a strong sense of determination, a small program was able to gain respect and their share of medals from regattas at Flushing Meadows and at the Long Island Championships in Oyster Bay.
The girls varsity 4 team captured a gold medal and the boys varsity won a bronze in the first race in mid- April at Flushing Meadows.
Beach Channel went through a rough stretch during the middle of the season and head coach Chris Horn looked for a way to motivate his team to perform at the New York State Championships in Saratoga Springs on May 13. Horn, who is assisted by coach Janna O Brien, pointed to his head as a solution
"They were down and I told them we're gong to work hard and if we qualified for the final, I'll shave my head. Both boats (boys and girls varsity 4) qualified and I had to do it."
Though both teams would wind up not winning a medal, the buzz cut remains visible on Horn's head.
"They were outstanding. There was nothing I could tell what they did was wrong.We didn't come home with any hardware but they did a great job. I'm happy with them and their faith in me. They do everything I ask of them," Horn
The Dolphins relied on eleven departing seniors who were integral in creating leadership roles for the younger novice and junior varsity members. Horn feels that the underclassmen have learned enough from the upperclassmen to assume those roles in the 2007 season.
"The varsity members really carried the load. The team we've been building for the last three years has paid off," Horn said. "All eleven are graduating and three are going to row in college which is amazing," Horn says of Derrick Reeder, who is heading to Syracuse University, Nicole Pierce and Alexandra Feliciano.
The younger members, such as Matt Inesti, a junior who said he shed 150 pounds in three seasons because of the rigors of training, appreciate the seniors' contribution to the team.
"The season was great. It was nice that a lot of the seniors stayed on the team and they had a lot of dedication."
Nicole Pierce, one of three senior members of the team to participate in all four years, says her love of crew wasn't immediate. She had to make an adjustment in her freshmen year from a sport that relies on individual achievement in swimming, to crew which relies heavily on teamwork.
"I didn't think I'd be here for four years but now I love it. I'm a swimmer and to be in a boat with four different personalities, you got to learn how to work together. Swimming is individualistic," Pierce said.
Now Pierce loves the sport so much she will continue performing at the college level with a rowing scholarship at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
"I didn't think I could be with so many different individuals. But you rely on your teammates and I learned got to do it and now I'm going to college with a rowing scholarship."
Calvin Quintana gained intimate knowledge of rowing from his father Carlos, who was originally a member of the Beach Channel crew team in the 1970's under former longtime head coach Bill Stein.
"It's been fun. It built me up, it got me into shape and I went back for my sophomore year," the four year player said. "We have to get along. If we don't, the boat won't move. We have to be interconnected with each other. We've become a family."
A family tradition ends for oarsman Robert Ianuzzi, who followed his brothers Steven and Michael as a member of the Beach Channel crew team. "It's been quick. I haven't felt the effects of it finally be over. I've been involved for 11 years," Ianuzzi said.
"Everyone gets along really well. We're built some character together. We've faced a lot more struggles than other teams but we got through it."
2006 Team: Carlos Cardena, Umair Khan, Matthew Parker, Nicholas Petroglia, Eduardo Ramirez, Navin Seetal. Jason Breslin, Theodore Dejmek, Josue Deleon Lopez, Frederick Ferby, Peter Getzoni, Robert Ianuzzi, Matthew Inesti, Darrel James, Yaso Kagzanov, Ante Perak, Calvin Quintana, Derrick Reeder, Mikhail Shalamov, Avinash Sukra, Giovanni Surdo Christina Coradin, Alexandra Feliciano, Jendayi Hawkins El, Vicky Joseph, Magdalena Kochanek, Jessica Navarette, Nicole Pierce, Yuliya Spektorsky, Sadia Zahir.