By Kevin O’Brien
Former Editor-in-Chief & Rower
I stood on the docks of the Pete Archer Rowing Center on Alamitos Bay, tucked behind a wall of upscale tract housing and palm trees. The water was choppy. The sky was closer to night than morning.
Former CSULB track and field team member, Jonathan Evans, stood between me and Beach Crew Men’s Novice Coach, Jeffrey Vreeland. All around us Beach Crew’s Men’s and Women’s crew teams were busy hoisting hulls, the narrow rowing boat shells used in crew, down to the docks before running back up to the boathouse for oars.
It was Evans’ first day visiting Beach Crew and he told me how he had found his way there. Evans said, “I ran track for Cal State Long Beach for four years and now my eligibility is up, so I’ve been looking for something else to get a workout in.”
The sentiment was one I encountered again and again as I spoke to members of the teams. Student athletes who still had the will and ability to participate in sports at a collegiate level, but lacked the opportunity, at least directly, through the university.
For some 50 years, Beach Crew has been extending that opportunity, not only to student athletes, but to any and all students who are willing to dedicate themselves to something beyond their studies. CSULB sophomore and Men’s Crew Varsity Captain, Tyler Hines said, “I’ve played sports all the way through high school, ever since I was a little kid. Coming to college and not playing any sports was different for me. Finding Crew was really good. Its the best workout I’ve ever had, I’ve gotten into the best shape I’ve ever been in, and everyone has to work as one. You have eight guys working hard for each other, its pretty awesome.”
Collegiate rowing teams compete in groups of eight, four, two, or one. The largest shells hold eight men or women. As Tyler inferred, when all eight teammates are in shape, on form, and in sync, the effect is invigorating. The hull begins to lift out of the water. The normally traumatic motion of oars cutting up out of the water and catching the water again becomes a precise flow as the hull takes off over the water.
Beyond the competition that Evans may be seeking, Beach Crew offers camaraderie. Hines continues, “I’m from a small town up in the San Joaquin Valley, a little town called Porterville. I didn’t know a lot of people. Crew was a great way to meet friends and get connected into something.” Women’s Varsity Crew Captain, Nina Whittset, had a similar experience. Whittset said, “I think I benefited a lot from Crew because I feel like in normal classes you’re not really able to socialize with people, you can’t really make friends too well, so I gained a lot of friends this way.”
Whether you are a returning for year track stay looking for a new workout or a freshman from the San Joaquin Valley, Beach Crew is a place where you can establish yourself.