Rapids taking on the river

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By: Amanda Wallace, Staff Writer

James River High School has a sport that’s unique to us: we have a crew team. The James River is less than a mile away from our school, so why not have a rowing team?

James River crew is technically not a school sport. If it was a school sport every high school in Chesterfield County would have to have a team too, and a river for every other school is not  easy access at all.

”The team was started 18 years ago by Hank Holswade. He negotiated with the county and got a boathouse on the present site,” coach Michael Johnson said.

The boats are not very cheap either; they use doubles, fours, and eights for the team. The least expensive boat is a double which is $11,900 and the most expensive is an eight boat is $45,900. The team has to fundraise all the money on their own; the county and school does not put any money into this sport. The team does not get any money from the school or taxpayers, they fundraise throughout the year that is how they obtain equipment and can afford the attendance fees for competitions.

The team was once eight people, but now, with 82 people on the team, there is a Varsity crew team and a Novice  team which is like the JV; that is where you begin. There is also a “learn to row team” which is for the freshmen in the fall where the coaches teach them the rowing techniques and how the team works. Therefore, the freshmen will be trained and moved up to the Novice  team in the spring.

“There are leadership roles within the team they name captains for the men and for the women coxswains. During the ‘off-season’ they lead the practices and during the season they lead and nurture the rowers to keep them motivated during the season,” Johnson said.

Fall season immediately starts when school starts back up and goes until the first week of November. The spring season they do sprint races which are 1500 meters in length and are “heat” races. This season runs through Memorial day weekend when they have nationals.

Coach Johnson has now been coaching the team for five years now first as an assistant coach and took over head coach in the fall of 2014.

“I coach because I enjoy teaching the kids the sport of rowing. I also enjoy watching the kids grow, mature and develop long lasting relationships with one another. Crew is a true team sport and their working together will give them wonderful leadership and teamwork traits that they can carry on into their college lives,” Johnson said.   

James River crew has their very own spirit wear, you can spot it around school on many kids and in many different types. Photo by Amanda Wallace