Schenectady County Community College’s relatively new crew program has a small budget, but huge hopes.
SCCC is one of only a pair of two-year crew programs in the country, and the Royals are getting into the habit of knocking off the four-year powers on a regular basis.
On Saturday, they trek to Philadelphia to compete in the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta for the fourth time. The Royals finished third out of 27 schools a year ago.
SCCC is on a hot streak this season, having won the Head of the Mohawk and then finishing second at the Head of the Housatonic in its first two events this season.
Head coach Cody Rule is a realist, and he knows that most of the teams he competes against have much bigger budgets and more established programs. But he tries to get the most out of his predominately local athletes.
“Since Orange Coast Community College and SCCC are the only two-year programs in the country, we’re at an obvious disadvantage because of our turnover rate,” said Rule. “A lot of schools can picture what their athletes will be like in the next two or three years. I’ve got to condense that down to one year sometimes. I’m lucky if I get a recruited athlete who stays two years.
“The coaching style and the equipment we use is transferable, but our budget is very small.”
Fortunately, SCCC gets plenty of help from nearby Union College.
“We rent the boat house from Union, and we also use their boat launches and their training facilities,” Rule said. “Most of my budget goes to renting those things. Union is definitely a very gracious host.”
Rule said the SCCC crew team was formed seven years ago when coaches from nearby programs like Schenectady, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake and Saratoga Springs reached out to have another local college in the area offer crew.
“They talked to my boss [SCCC athletic director David Gonzalez], and we started small, with maybe one or two girls, and later four or five girls. It’s been creeping up steadily since then,” he said.
Rule was recently promoted from assistant coach to head coach.
“We have 15 girls on the team. I have some flexibility now, because I can enter three teams in the fours, or I can enter one team in the eights and another in the fours, and so on.”
Rule counts on the local high school teams to provide him with rowers.
“I would say 80 percent of our rowers are from the Capital Region,” he said. “We get them from Guilderland, Schenectady, Scotia-Glenville, Albany Academy and Saratoga. But we do have some girls from Oneonta and Long Island.”
SCCC’s recent success hasn’t led Rule to expect too much from his team.
“I try to curb expectations,” he said. “We’ve been rowing very strongly lately, and we’re getting hot at the right time. Last year, we did very well in this same race.
“What I look at when we go to the national stage like this is that we’ll be competing against all levels, from club level to Division I. What we want is to be strong and to compete well. We want to put up good times. My main goal is to command the respect of other crew teams. We don’t need to be first to do that, but if we come in with respectable times, we will command respect, and that’s what it is all about.”
Rule said he earned that kind of respect when he finished second by just two seconds to Fordham and later beat the Rams by 40 seconds.
“What people don’t realize is that in one of our events, we had a boat with all true novices who had just learned how to row. They finished 17th out of 27 boats, so even our secondary team had an incredible performance.”
Rule said the SCCC rowing season is split into the fall and the spring.
“We compete maybe three or four times in the fall, and then we compete six to nine times in the spring,” he said.
“The hardest part is all of the training year-round. The girls are competing maybe 18 to 20 minutes per race in the fall. That’s about an hour worth of time. But you are training all season for just an hour. That’s a lot of work for such a short period of competition.”
Some of the top competitors for SCCC include Kaleigh Hoffman, Julia Taylor, Mariah Matarazzo, Kayla Belschwinder, team captain Taylor De Moree and Naj’la Lewis.
Also on the team are Natalia Sagaille, Mariah Donlin, Rachel Rockwell, Elicia Bell, Morgan Shaginaw, Schuyler Connors, and Allison Terrell.
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Categories: College Sports