2008-03-21 / Sports

Beach Channel Crew Team Seeks Community Help

By Elio Velez

With the first hints of spring around the corner, Chris Horn knows this time period is the beginning of an activity which will take up a lot of his time.

But it's been a happy and fruitful 10 years for Chris Horn. A teacher at Beach Channel High School, he devotes his after-school activities to coaching the only crew varsity team in the five boroughs.

Horn has been accustomed to the huge undertaking needed to get his group of 26 young men and women to compete in regattas or races on match day. He learned as an assistant to Bill Stein, who first started the program in 1974.

But before the crew team gets into the water, money is required to do the things necessary to prepare for a race. And unlike the past few years, Horn is a bit nervous because funds to pay for travel costs, upkeep of the boats and other things have dried up.

He's still feverishly trying other ways to defray costs. It won't stop the team from competing but raising other funds would make life a bit easier.

"I thought I was going to get help like in year's pasts. I got help from an organization which paid for the van in full to get us to practices and carry the equipment," Horn said.

There are huge costs to rent a van in April and May to transport the coaches and members of the team. For the two months needed to practice at Floyd Bennett Field, where the Beach Channel trains at five days, or travel to regattas, the cost is at least $4200 according to Horn.

The team also intends to use the van to compete in four regattas this spring, which will take them to upper Manhattan, Long Island and West Point.

Other costs include transportation and upkeep of the boats, which are stored in an old World War II Quonset Hut, which is shredded with old bullet holes near the Mill Basin.

Horn though is optimistic that his attempts to gain funding will happen. He's credited Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer's office amongst others with some much needed funds to offset costs in year's past.

Horn isn't alone in the mission. Afew members of the team have volunteered to fundraise during the months leading to the first race.

Three members of the team, seniors Umair Khan, Matthew Parker and Gerald Watkins, came to the Wave offices last Tuesday to explain why they are asking for help.

Khan, who has been on the team for three years along with Parker and Watkins, wants to raise enough to pay for food and other little items.

"The crew team has meant a lot to me and it's taught me a lot of discipline. It's been a great experience and it looks great on my transcript."

Khan added, "The crew has been our family. It gives me somewhere to go and keeps me stable to do at school so I will do anything I can for this team."

Parker believes the long hours of being on the crew teams pays off in the classroom.

"Coach says whoever is on the crew, they always graduate. We're work as a team. We're dedicated."

Horn keeps coaching because he gets a total commitment from his team as they dedicate numerous man-hours to compete.

The kinship and tight camaraderie are just of the few of the words Horn says is a byproduct of the hardwork his team does when it first gathers in February for indoor practices. It's why ever year Horn can juggle raising his own family and the crew team, which he truly believes is a family.

"I got the big like the others do. You get into a race, win a medal or two and you see the positive impact on the kids. It's hard not to continue after that," said Horn.

If anyone would like to donate to the Beach Channel crew team, call the school at 718-945-6900 and ask to talk to Chris Horn or leave a message.

Anyone interested in the team can follow them through their website at http://www.freewebs.com/bcrowing/ or view their practices or races at you tube.com

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