On Feb. 5, the men’s and women’s crew teams gathered in the north foyer of the Campus Center not only to work out, but row for something much larger than just themselves and the team.
The crew teams have put on the annual Row for Humanity event for the past 12 years, with turnouts for the event steadily increasing. The event supports the Ithaca College chapter of Habitat for Humanity, an organization that sends students and faculty to parts of the world to help build livable structures and provide aid to people in need.
The event is used as a training activity for the crew team but also doubles as a way for the team to raise money for the local Habitat for Humanity chapter.
Members of the team are assigned a 30-minute shift during which they use stationary rowing machines. There are three rowing machines on each side that face each other. Team members row at maximum effort for the duration of their shift.
Team members raise money for the event by sending out a minimum of 20 flyers to family and friends. On the flyers, it is stated that the money is split between the crew team and Habitat for Humanity.
According to women’s head coach Becky Robinson, in the 12 years they have been doing this event, they have raised over $60,000 for Habitat for Humanity. This year’s event pulled in around $20,000, with 25 percent going to Habitat for Humanity. The remaining money is used for the crew teams’ spring scheduling and athletic gear.
Senior captain Krista Syracuse said the experience can truly be a beautiful event.
“This is always a great cause. We love doing it,” Syracuse said. “You see the same people around you doing the same thing. It’s so rewarding.”
Sophomore Lechandre Mix said the experience added to the team’s cohesiveness.
“It’s great to be with all of our teammates, and we are all pulling together,” Mix said. “It’s good to know that we are all in this together.”
Prior to the event, the rowers did a letter writing campaign and mailed letters to friends and family, urging them to donate money to both the team and the event.
“We raise so much money, and you don’t even realize it,” Syracuse said. “It’s a great way to just get our team out there and show off our hard work.”
Men’s head coach Dan Robinson said the athletes were excited to row for a good cause.
“We’re not just raising money for ourselves,” Dan Robinson said. “That motivates them a little bit more.”
Syracuse, who has participated in the event since her freshman year, said her freshman and sophomore year events involved a 30-minute test piece.
“Rather than just a workout, we’d pull as hard as we can for 30 minutes and get however many meters you can get,” she said.
Syracuse said in the past, rowers were so intense that they ended up screaming at one another to motivate and push. She said the change has made the event much more friendly.
To be able to row hardcore for 30 minutes takes serious strength, endurance and patience, something that Mix said the self-proclaimed “fittest team on campus” lived up to at the event.
“This is our winter training session, so we’ve been doing a lot of cardio and lifting,” Mix said.
Syracuse said it promoted teamwork and connection above individual traits and tribulations.
“I came from gymnastics, where it’s so individual,” Syracuse said. “Coming to this team was eye-opening and amazing.”
Even after rowers were done with their workout shift for the day, athletes stuck around to support other rowers, answer questions, promote the event and hang out with teammates.
Dan Robison said the crew teams have thought about branching out to more charities and creating new opportunities to do row-a-thons and other activities but will still continue the Row for Humanity for the near future.
The crew teams had done a similar event in the early 1990s, only back then they were raising money for the American Heart Association.
“If you’re going to do a row-a-thon, it’s nice to piggyback off a charity,” Robinson said. “It’s just a good event.”