Fairfield University Women’s Rowing enhances the college experience of our varsity student-athletes, providing them with opportunities to excel athletically and academically. Friends of Women’s Rowing provides the program with the basic necessities to help them row at the highest levels of collegiate competition.
Greetings Friends of Women’s Rowing,
My last offering was a description of a team of potential and the challenge to realize the talent of the group in time for the MAAC Championship after a difficult late winter. All credit to the women’s team because despite, on paper, not having the individual standouts that have represented us so well in the past, the collective working together proved to be greater than the sum of the parts (so often the hope and expectation in the sport of rowing though not always realized). Our second varsity eight and varsity four both earned bronze medals. While our varsity eight was always going to the start line underpowered, they put together a tremendous race to make the grand final and in that final placed fifth overcoming for the first time this season the top crew from our local rivals, Sacred Heart, when it mattered most
Heading into this fall, there may be a temptation to look back and focus on what we have lost. In terms of rowing personnel, our numbers are going to be initially low on experienced rowers, with 7 seniors having graduated and 8 juniors studying abroad. While I will miss all of them we enter the fall in full-on development mode to sharpen up the skills and athleticism of those who will be here. We welcome to the team five recruits – Sam Altomare, Chloe Boughrum, Morgan Connell, Bethany Gove and Brook Sillart. In the recruiting process, I always tell my prospects that I’m not in the position to recruit for the purposes of strengthening the base of the squad, and that they should come in with the expectation, desire, and commitment to be starters (for those not yet acclimatized to the adjustments in women’s rowing as an NCAA sport). The ‘starting team’ for women’s rowing is the varsity eight, second varsity eight and varsity four, so we need a minimum of 20 rowers and three coxswains just to go to the start line for it to be considered a legitimate race. Imagine, basketball only needs five!
We have also lost Assistant Coach Matt Labine, and we are currently looking for a replacement. As many of you may know, Matt was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma at the turn of the year. He battled hard, but with complications stemming from his treatment, that battle has proven not to be winnable. As I write, Matt is currently stable and comfortable in his local hospital with his healthcare being managed. Between writing these words and the publication of them there is, alas, a chance that the situation has changed. Matt gave three years of his time and dedication to the program and I know he enjoyed his time with us tremendously. Yale dominates his rowing thoughts with standout memories, in particular the ’79 varsity eight that raced an undefeated regular season (albeit the loss to Harvard in the final ‘boat race’), and the memory of finally besting the mighty Harvard in the one race that matters to both institutions, along with his national team exploits, in ’81. I have no doubts that Fairfield brought him many happy coaching memories topped by the varsity four at MAACs in 2016, a crew he guided, with an experienced stroke seat and experienced coxswain alongside three raw walk-on talents, to glorious gold. I know our thoughts and prayers are with Matt and his family at this time.
With the Head of the Housatonic now going to a lottery system similar to the Head of the Charles, and the likelihood of Fairfield getting enough boats entered to get the minimum required 23 athletes on the race course, we will join Sacred Heart University, Manhattan College, and Iona College downstream of the dam on the Housatonic for our own race allowing us all the opportunity to lock in our required entries. We will return to the Connecticut River in Hadley, MA and compete in the first-ever Hadley Chase on October 14th, organized by University of Massachusetts. We await the lottery result for the Head of the Charles on October 21st and will compete at the Fall Metropolitan Regatta on November 4th (date to be confirmed).
As ever, we are appealing for substantial help required to upgrade our fleet. Our four women’s eights date of construction range from 2016, through 2007, to 2003 all the way back to 1998. Currently one of our fleets is older than the athletes. It will not be long before our next oldest boat is also older than the competitors. Three of four boats are outdated with ‘euro-riggers’ instead of the up-to-date ‘wing rigger’ models used by all our rivals. Literally, our equipment is costing us racing results. The women’s fleet is struggling while the men’s fleet is flourishing. To catch up with the men’s fleet and to catch up with our competitors we rely on the generous support of our Friends. I hope you will consider helping us in our need for upgraded equipment.
Also, please save the date – our annual crew celebration will once again be held in the Kelley Center on February 24, 2018. I encourage everyone to come out and join us in 2018. The more people who attend, the more stories are shared, which leads to us knowing more about our history. There is so much unknown history of rowing at Fairfield from 1993 to 2007, and those stories will be forgotten if they are not shared and passed along to the current and future generations of Stag Rowers. Some people who attended this year were blown away by the volume of construction on campus that is changing the landscape. In 2018 most of the big projects will be finished and will be that much more impressive to come see. What will the next project lined up be and when will it start?
As always, thanks for all your support and Go Stags!
Director of Rowing, Athletics
Friends of Women’s Rowing has set a fundraising goal of 50 donors and $5,000. Donations made before June 30, 2018 will go towards the program’s current use fund, contributions that immediately benefit our most pressing program necessities and enhancements. By making a gift of any amount, you can provide Women’s Rowing with a competitive edge.
Travel & Recruiting
For more information about Friends of Fairfield Athletics, or giving a gift to Women’s Rowing, please call Rachel Kavanagh at 203-254-4000, ext. 2392 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Athletics Development Office
1073 North Benson Road
Fairfield, CT 06824