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2010: A Report to Friends of Beach Crew

Greetings Alumni, Parents, and Friends,

It’s hard to believe that more than 50 years have passed since the first group of gentlemen grabbed ahold of an oar for the first time. Not to leave out the other half, the women’s program has surpassed its 27th year on the water. Very few sports at this and other institutions compare to the commitment of these athletes and staff, demonstrated by professional leadership and coaching, which offers students the opportunity to explore and expand their capabilities as representatives of their university. This competitive nature builds character by developing the values of teamwork, commitment, self-sacrifice, discipline, and achievement. This reinforces the university’s core values of scholarship, leadership, and citizenship, while providing students a healthy balance to their academic pursuits.

I want to share some challenges and items I’ve worked on this past year to help strengthen the program and keep us moving ahead. Needless to say we are always looking for a helping hand when it comes to projects and purchases the team needs.

University Archives and Publications

I have been in touch with Kristy French, Director of University Archives, regarding the preservation of crew artifacts, stories, and memorabilia. Most recently, her office received a photo of the first men’s team in 1958, which they were extremely excited about. Kristy is hooked up with the Beach Crew Newsline and will archive anything written including the rowers’ journals. The department staff within Club Sports & Recreation have discovered old athletic contracts dating back to 1986 with contact information. This information is being compiled and will be checked with the CSULB Foundation. Once it is cleared, it will be handed over to the Beach Crew Alumni Association to include in their records.

Kristy invites the community to make an appointment with her during their hours of operation. The University Archives Office is located in Room 300 of the CSULB Library. She is always willing to take donations of crew items. You can be rest assured that they will be safe with her for years to come.

The California State University System

There’s no doubt that everyone in the community knows about the trouble that the State of California is in right now. Last summer the CSU was hit with a $564 million cut resulting in raising student fees twice, totaling 30%. To mitigate further hikes and actual lay-offs, the CSU faculty and staff agreed to furloughs, which is making it difficult for us to take care of needed business on campus. Long Beach State is one of five CSU’s that offer rowing as a sport.

It’s hard to believe how the mismanagement in Sacramento directly affects Beach Crew. What’s worse, all 23 CSU campuses are now impacted to the point where the idea of “service areas” have been formed, making it extremely difficult for us to get athletes to row in Long Beach. Incoming students are now prioritized by where they live, giving local applicants the advantage. Last year, we attracted many prospective athletes up and down the state who were involved in the sport while in high school. Most of these students athletes graduated high school in at least the top 30% of their class and expressed their top interest to come to CSULB. We are extremely lucky to have a body of water that has been historically preserved for aquatics, such as our sport, and have our institution only blocks away. Other than having the rowing facilities right on campus, many of our neighboring collegiate crews deal with a commute of at least 30 minutes before hitting the water. This is probably our biggest perk when choosing where to continue your academics and involvement in the sport.

Unfortunately, these efforts have greatly diminished as almost all of the prospective athletes we’ve been in contact with were rejected by the university. We do not have the ability to provide any academic exemptions. Two things that we are trying to achieve to get around this is to reach out to international students, out-of-state applicants, and focus on incoming transfer students within the CSU Long Beach service area. International and out-of-state students pay non-resident tuition, in addition to the student semester fees, as the university doesn’t spend public dollars on the student. While the CSU has a responsibility to the people of California, it’s an incentive to keep the reputation of the university in good standing.

Incoming transfer students within the current CSU Long Beach service area practically have a “shoe-in” through the enrollment process providing they have met the requirements and remain in good standing at their current institution. One institution that has our eye is Orange Coast College. Orange Coast is the only two-year institution that has consistently run a rowing program. In fact, according to the university archives, we received our first 8+ man shell from Coast back in ’57. Many of our alumni happen to come from this institution as well (me included). We’re doing our best to invite collegiate teams back to Marine Stadium to make our mark in the community. While the nature of the sport sees other teams as rivals, it’s important for us, especially with those in our same “class” of operation, to exchange a good relationship and learn what works and what doesn’t for each other. We all have our own challenges we deal with. In a time where college tuition is continuously rising, CSU Long Beach remains a bargain, based on results of the Princeton Review’s “Best Value Institutions” for 2009, ranking in third on the west coast. CSU Long Beach repeatedly ranked as “One of the Top Five Public Comprehensive Universities in the Western United States” by U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges Guide. We can only hope that our efforts will steer us in the right direction to keep the program thriving. Recent news shows that athletic programs are being cut all around the nation, more notably, here in Southern California. Thanks to the never-ending efforts of our coaching staff and student officers, we continue to gain ground. I think the world of them. They give up so much to keep our heads up. It’s not easy, but with continued motivation, we can get through these hard times.

Future Funding from Associated Students Incorporated

Associated Students Incorporated (ASI) is a student auxiliary of CSU Long Beach that currently funds about 15% of Beach Crew’s annual operations. We receive grants totaling between $14,000 to $18,000 each year, depending on student enrollment and the distribution of funds between organizations. We are the second most-funded group trailing behind the 49er Ice Hockey Team, who has administrative costs much higher than we do. We are thankful to have the City of Long Beach behind us as they’ve provided a home for us for so many years. Beach Crew is extremely lucky to have the funding we have. This is something we should not take for granted. While the ASI leadership sees the obligation the university has in funding the Pete Archer Rowing Center’s annual operations, we are faced with a reduction in grants allocated from them in the coming years. ASI usually runs about a year behind the university’s budget from the state, which means that we’re about to be hit with a painful reduction. ASI’s grant funds are restricted to the team. The allocations are first spent to provide the expenses obligated to the Pete Archer Rowing Center, the City of Long Beach, and the Long Beach Rowing Association. This is about half of the 15% we receive, about 7%. While those funds will always be available to us, the remainder of the grants would usually be spent on equipment insurance, memberships and regatta fees associated with the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association (WIRA) and recently, the American Collegiate Rowing Association (ACRA). With boathouse costs, membership fees and regatta entry fees on the rise, we are forced to grab from our general “agency” funds to pay for these expenses. While the organizations are doing everything they possibly can to cut costs and keep expenses down, the immediate future is somewhat questionable as to what we will be able to participate in. The team has cut attending the Newport Autumn Rowing Festival and the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia, PA, because of these matters. It will be a rough ride ahead, but we’re ready for what we’ll need to deal with. We thank the leadership of ASI for all that they do and are glad they see that our program creates positive impacts on its students as well as the outcome of the responsibility we have with their investment in Beach Crew.

Chase Boats for Coaching Staff

There’s no doubt that for the last several years (maybe decades according to my records) that Beach Crew has been somewhat deficient in this arena. The team never had its own fleet of chase boats to follow their crews, thus relying on the Long Beach Rowing Association to pick up the slack. In recent years they have been generous renting out wake-less catamaran style vessels which are essential to our daily operations. This is the first year that we dropped out of that obligation since we finally have our own fleet of chase boats for each coach. The team has a good fleet of engines that power each boat, with the most recent one purchased three years ago by the Beach Crew Alumni Association. Our purchases have paid for themselves in terms of what we would have spent to rent boats. While this marks improvement on our part, the sharks are not out of the water yet. All of the chase boats we have are typical “runabout” style utility boats which are not optimal for coaching. Three of the four in the fleet of chase boats present a less-than-desired safe operation while the crews are out. Luckily, we have a coaching staff that is able to be aware of their surroundings and no accidents have occurred. The chase boats have manufactured years of 1967, 1974, 1975, and one with an unknown year of manufacture. The oldest boat, being put into service by CSULB in 1989, more popularly known as “Sharky” over the years, suffers from years of dryrot, and has seen its last year of operations as it suffered from severe electrical and infrastructure problems. Other chase boats have various leaks which we’ve patched up numerous times over the summer while other defects pop-up out of the blue. I recently resolved problems at the CA Department of Motor Vehicles trying to get them renewed for legal and safe operation in the water. While all of them definitely “float” this is something of high-priority to get resolved as soon as possible.

We want to phase out at least two of these utility boats by the start of next spring. We are looking to purchase two new mid-size catamaran vessels from WinTech Racing. We need about $9,000 for each chase boat. We are coordinating these efforts with CSULB Campus Fleet Services, who holds ownership of our fleet of boats, to assist us with this purchase. With combined efforts of our community, the team would need to pay back the amount within a year. Let’s get these to Marine Stadium so our coaches can continue the great job of what they do every morning.

As we look ahead, I see a program once again living the legacy that all of us once experienced. I first came to Beach Crew in 2007 and saw a program that was together but needed a little help. It has been a whirlwind experience for me applying what I once learned from other eras of my life and putting everything together to apply with Beach Crew. I am thankful for the incredible staff and leadership that I work with. They do the unthinkable. It’s my hope by the time I depart and hand over the books that Beach Crew will be a little better off than where it was a few years ago. Our community is growing, the legacy is alive, and the traditions keep moving ahead.

We hope that you’ll join us this next season at the many events we have planned at home, the historic Long Beach Marine Stadium. I’ll end with what Former CSULB President, Dr. Robert C. Maxon, once said: “If the only thing you do in college is go to class, then you have not had the full college experience”.


Yours in Service,

Brandin Grams (’07-’09)
General Manager
California State University, Long Beach Rowing Programs