Waking up before sunrise for vigorous training while other students are still asleep, the Arizona State University rowing team has an extreme passion for an unappreciated sport.
A typical warm up is 15 minutes of land drills, such as sprints down the running path, and then the team rows Tempe Town Lake for the next hour and a half. By 7 a.m. the crew is already cleaning up the equipment and heading to their classes, said ASU men's rowing team coach James Willis.
"One thing you got to know is it takes dedication." said Willis. "It takes about two years for someone to be a well-trained rower."
First time rowers are welcome to join the team but must reach a set distance on the ergometer, an indoor rowing machine that's commonly found in most gyms. "I'll have them row a set distance of 2,000 meters, if they make it in six and a half minutes then they are above average." said Willis.
The team consists of eight rowers and in order to make sure they are going to cross the finish line, each rower needs to be at every practice until the competition. Unlike a sport like basketball, rowing doesn't have any star players and, "If everyone doesn't do these things the boat wont be successful and it will most likely lose." said women's team rower Sienna Wyse.
Wyse has been on the women's rowing team for a year and said that the most important aspect of rowing is the synchronized effort of each rower. Each stroke must be orchestrated with surgical precision, if the team is slightly out of unison it could cost them the race.
The women's team recently competed in the Women's Spring Regatta in San Diego, Calif. where every collegiate rowing team participated in over 100 races. The ASU team was teamed up in the novice race category, they place 13th out of 14.
Although the ASU rowing team is a club sport, the team competes with out of state university teams in competitions as far as Philadelphia, Pa. Since ASU only funds a small portion of the club sport, much of the travel expenses come from the team's pocket.
Each member of the team is required to raise money by either getting local corporate sponsorship or traditional fundraising such as car washes. The team has recently come up with ideas such as "rent-a-rower," where a person can pay a rower to take care of any manual labor needed for a fee that goes towards the ASU rowing team.
The ASU rowing team was formed in September 2002 and started off with a team of 42 rowers their first year. After failed efforts to organize with the school, the parents of the rowing team members created the Arizona Colligate Rowing Foundation, a non-profit to help pay for maintenance fees and equipment.