A new Evanston Township High School rowing program will begin this month. This gives her ETHS students of all grade levels additional options in their athletic pursuits. No experience is required to try water.
Head coach Luciana Lewis said, “We’re looking for people who are or are interested in competing this fall. We really want it to be a comprehensive program.” is a diverse crew team that truly reflects the demographics of the school, she explained.
The season begins on August 15th with a two-week probation period to introduce the sport and provide basic coaching.
“This is to open up the opportunity for rowing to as many interested people as possible,” Lewis said. “Before we officially hit the water, we understand the basics, have safety requirements in place, and do some basic strength training.”
Teams practice in the North Shore using watercraft set up at the Damlich Rowing Center in the Skokie Park District at Oakton Street and McCormick Boulevard. Thanks to a partnership with Lewis’ alma mater, Northwestern University, ETHS borrows equipment from the university’s crew team.
A newer, well-maintained eight-person shell like the two ETHS use can cost as much as $15,000, so this arrangement helps fledgling programs keep costs down. A $15 club dues covers the cost of a required USRowing membership, but the organization waives dues to accommodate an underrepresented group of students.
“We are very excited to introduce rowing to ETHS this year. We are grateful for our partnership with Northwestern Rowing and for the volunteer work Luciana and her incredible staff have done to make this happen,” said ETHS Athletic Director Chris. Livatino said.
Equipment restrictions will ultimately limit crew teams to 27 people, Ruiz said. Students wishing to pursue rowing beyond the two-week induction period are asked to attend after-school practices four days a week during the fall. The spring season offers an opportunity for reassessment.
“For the first year, I don’t expect a one-year commitment,” she said. “I think it’s really worth it when kids play multiple sports.”
Lewis said she and the rest of the coaching staff encourage all sport-minded students to consider rowing as an option. she said. “Anyone interested in sports or athletics can be a great rower.”
Libertino emphasized that diversity is a top priority in the formation of its new crew team, adding North Channel Community Rowing, a free program it has been working on for the past year to broaden access to the sport for Evanston’s youth. “Thanks to the creation of the NCCR and their efforts to include students of color in their middle school programs, especially from this year’s freshman class, all ETHS students will be able to participate in this sport.”
Ruiz has been volunteering with the NCCR since it was launched last summer and is looking forward to taking her efforts to the next level. She said that during her five years with the Northwest crew team, Evanston became her “home away from home.” “I fell in love with Evanston and wanted to get more involved, especially with children,” she said.
Five volunteer coaches are involved to create the rowing program.