Learn more about USC Rowing in the Parent Handbook!
What is Rowing?
Rowing is an exciting, competitive sport that takes place on the water in sleek, narrow boats, known as shells. This sport involves high degrees of endurance, strength, teamwork, mental toughness, and an ability to continue on when your body wants to stop. Rowing is a full-body workout using muscles in the legs, torso, and arms.
There are boats for eight, four, two, or one person. An eight (8+) or four (4+) person boat have an on-board captain known as the coxswain. The biggest and fastest boat is for 8 people, measuring over 50 feet long but weighing only 215 pounds! That’s impressive! During the fall & spring season, single gender crews of equal experience row in equal-sized boats and compete against each other in races called regattas.
What Can USC Rowing Offer Me?
- FITNESS – Pound for pound, rowers are the strongest athletes on earth! Rowing exercises every major muscle group, builds cardio & aerobic stamina, and has the lowest injury risk possible. It is truly a lifetime sport!
- NO EXPERIENCE NEEDED – Our coaches teach you how to row!
- EVERYONE RACES – If you practice, you compete. No bench warmers!
- INCLUSIVENESS – We have both a men’s & women’s crew team. All rowers compete with other rowers of similar size & experience from all over the area.
- FRIENDSHIP – Rowers build new friendships and memories to last a lifetime!
- TEAMWORK – Rowing is the ultimate team sport; athletes work together to balance the boat, row in perfect unison, and achieve success!
Is Rowing a Varsity Sport?
The USC Rowing Association is fully sanctioned by the USC School district as a Club sport. A major difference between Varsity and Club sports is funding. Varsity Sports receive financial support, equipment, etc. from the school district, whereas Club Sports are funded primarily through dues and fundraising. The USC High School does recognize the rowing program with Varsity status and Varsity Letters are awarded to rowers who meet certain criteria which can be found in the USC Rower Responsibilities, Expectations, and Code of Conduct.
Who Can Participate?
Students in 7th through 12th grade in the Upper St. Clair School District are eligible to join the USC Rowing Team. We are a co-ed team; however, each crew is of one gender and row separately. Beginning rowers will be given instruction to learn how to row. New rowers are known as novices and compete only against other novice crews. After rowing two seasons (e.g. fall and spring) on the water as a novice, rowers may advance to either Junior Varsity or Varsity boats.
What Types of Programs are Offered and What Does it Cost?
We offer 3 types of programs to accommodate your level of interest and commitment:
- FULL PROGRAM – For students interested in full-time rowing, we offer water and land sessions 5 days per week during the fall and spring seasons. Winter conditioning sessions are 4 days per week and included at no extra cost if participating in both fall and spring seasons. Rowers compete at regattas/erg races & participate in fundraising opportunities. Cost $650 per season. If rowing in fall or spring only, then winter season costs $150.
- RECREATIONAL PROGRAM – A great way for students to get introduced to the sport of rowing with a commitment of just 2 days per week during the fall and spring seasons. Students learn the rowing technique through water sessions on Mondays and Thursdays. Cost $250 per season.
- WINTER PROGRAM – For students interested in fitness/ergometer training we offer conditioning sessions 2 days per week at the high school. Winter session is from mid-November through early March. Cost $75.
Experienced rowers are required to purchase a one-piece unisuit and a long sleeved shirt (approx. $110). Optional team apparel including jackets, hoodies, shirts, duffel bags, and hats may be purchased at an additional cost.
Why Does it Cost So Much to Row?
The USC Rowing Association is a Club Sport; therefore, financial support from the school district is very minimal. Most of the cost is attributed to equipment, maintenance, and coaches’ salaries. A new 8-person boat costs between $28,000 and $40,000, oars are $375 each, and ergometers are more than $900 each. Launches and motors are also expensive. All equipment must be purchased, maintained, and ultimately replaced. The club must also pay fees for boat storage and regattas, insurance, and general operating expenses.
Is There Fundraising?
Rowers’ fees cover approximately 70% of the club’s total cost. Rowers and their families raise the other 30% through a series of fundraising events. Our biggest fundraiser is the Crew Pie Sales in the fall and spring. Each rower is expected to sell and deliver a minimum of 75 pies for the year (50 in fall & 25 in spring). If the rower meets the 75-pie quota in the fall, then a portion of the sales of additional pies is applied towards the rower’s dues. Fundraising is a great opportunity to get connected with the team. We welcome families to help at any event and offer new fundraising ideas.
When is the Rowing Season?
Rowing extends throughout the entire school year and is comprised of three seasons: fall, winter, and spring. Students may participate in any or all seasons. Rowers participating only in the spring racing season should also participate in the winter conditioning season, including the indoor erg competitions, to prepare and condition for the spring races.
- FALL SEASON (late August thru October) – Rowers are trained and conditioned on the water (weather permitting) in preparation for head races.
- WINTER SEASON (mid-November thru mid-February) –During this “indoor training” season, students use rowing machines called ergometers (ergs) to work on strength training, conditioning, endurance, and technique. Rowers compete at indoor erg competitions.
- SPRING SEASON (mid-March thru May)– Rowers are trained and conditioned on the water (weather permitting) in preparation for sprint races.
When and Where are the Practices?
The time and location of practices depends upon the season:
- FALL & SPRING SEASON: Monday – Thursday (4 PM to 8 PM); Saturdays (8 AM to 12 PM)
Students meet at the USC High School upper parking lot by 4 PM Weekdays and 8 AM Saturdays. They are transported via bus to the TRRA Lambert Boathouse at Washington’s Landing in Pittsburgh and practice on the Allegheny River (conditions permitting).
- WINTER SEASON: Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday (5 -7 PM), Tuesday (5:30 -7:30 PM); Saturdays (9 -11 AM)
Students practice indoors at the USC High School on rowing machines called ergometers(ergs). In addition, an outside trainer provides strength training instruction two hours per week.
Can I Manage my School Work?
Yes, there are even several honor students on the rowing team! Some rowers stay after school to do homework from 2:30 to 4:00 and then go straight to the bus for practice. Some do homework or study on the bus. Others have free periods during the school day when they get school work done. So when they get home in the evening, there is much less to do. Plus—guidance counselors will tell you this—students who participate in activities perform a lot better in school than those who do not. Rowing will help you learn time management skills!
Can I Participate in Other Sports or Activities?
Rowing is one of the few “year round” sports. Due to our practice and racing schedule, it is difficult to participate in another sport while on the team. However, many rowers join various clubs & activities and students are welcome to participate in a different sport in the fall or winter seasons instead of rowing.
What are Regattas?
Regattas are one- or two-day racing meets with a large number of teams competing in a wide array of events. The USC Rowing Association has one or more tents set up to serve as a meeting and food service area. The team owns several large tents, tables, grills, and other equipment. In between races, the team relaxes in the tents, takes in nourishment, and tries to conserve energy for up-coming races.
What Types of Races are There?
There are 3 types of races:
- Fall races are typically Head Races, where boats race individually in a time trial format.
- Winter races are Erg Races, where rowers race using indoor rowing machines.
- Most spring races are Sprint Races, courses that have space for six or seven boats to race at once. Events with more than six registered boats have qualifying pre-races or heats. The top two or three boats in a heat advance to semi-finals or finals for that particular event.
What is the Racing Schedule?
A typical racing schedule for the year may look like this:
- Fall Season – 2 races in October. One is the Head of the Ohio (Pittsburgh, PA) and in the past the other has been Head of the Occoquan (Sandy Run, VA) or Speakmon Memorial Regatta (Columbus, OH).
- Winter Season – 2 races in January & February. Pittsburgh Indoor Sprints and North Allegheny Indoor Rowing Championships.
- Spring Season – 4 races in April & May. Dillon Lake Scholastic Sprints (Dillon Lake, OH), Pittsburgh Scholastic Sprints, Midwest Scholastic Championships (Dillon Lake, OH) and Mercyhurst Regatta (Erie, PA). We also have one scrimmage against local teams in Pittsburgh.
Most races are one-day events with the exception of the regattas in Ohio or Virginia which are 2-day events that require an overnight stay with parent chaperones.
Are There College Scholarships Available?
Yes, there are opportunities to receive scholarships from colleges and universities! The USC Rowing Association is proud to have both male and female alumni who received rowing scholarships in the past few years. While rowing is increasing in popularity, we are one of the few schools in the area to offer rowing as a club sport. Combined with the Upper St. Clair School District’s exemplary curriculum and reputation, you will have an advantage when applying for admission to colleges and universities looking for new athletes for their rowing teams!
I Don’t Plan on Rowing in College, So Why Should I Row?
Even if you don’t want to participate in sports after high school, USC Rowing looks great on your college resume! Admissions counselors at colleges and universities know that rowing takes up a considerable amount of time and commitment and they look for that type of dedication in students who apply to their school. Being a part of the rowing team is also great for your social life. Since we spend so much time together on the bus and at practices, we build great friendships! The pasta dinners, regattas, and overnight trips are a lot of fun, too! Plus, as we said before, rowing is a sport that you can enjoy for a lifetime!
What is Expected From My Parents?
Parental support is absolutely vital to maintaining this great varsity program! It’s not like a basketball game, for example, which is played indoors, takes an hour or so to complete, and only requires a couple of referees and a clock operator. On the contrary, running a Rowing Regatta involves significant logistical support from many parents. Our races take place away from the school campus, can stretch for hours, and require a host of volunteers. Parents are asked to volunteer for any one of the many tasks that make regattas, fundraisers, and social events great successes. All families are expected to volunteer, but we will try to match you up with a job you will enjoy!
I’m Interested—Where Can I Get More Information?
We would love to tell you more about USC Rowing!
Please contact our USCRA President for more information.