Great news for Sarasota-area rowers: your collegiate options just expanded.
On Tuesday, New College of Florida announced a partnership with Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates. The college is starting a new rowing club, New Crew SRQ, and SANCA's Nathan Benderson Park will be the club's home. The club will practice there daily and, if and when the club is up for hosting regattas of its own, those would be at the park, too.
The club will be coached by current New College physics student Toni Ginsberg-Klemmt, who attended Pine View School and rowed with Sarasota Crew in her younger days. She also went back to the crew as a part-time middle and elementary school coach, so she does have experience in that area. She also came up with the idea for the club herself, getting support from her family and New College faculty adviser Amy Reid, a French and gender studies professor, in the process.
At the rowing club's introductory press conference Tuesday at Benderson Park, Ginsberg-Klemmt spoke passionately about her love of the sport. She asked people to forgive her for her tears; this had been a long time coming for her. All Ginsberg-Klemmt wanted to do as a junior athlete was row in college. People would ask her constantly how that pursuit was going, she said. After all, the crew is known for making rower's dreams come true when it comes to colleges. It currently has alumni at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Brown, Stanford, Duke and Miami, among many other universities.
"Most rowers are recruited for their stature or their 2K time or general fitness ability," Ginsberg-Klemmt said. "But I'm 5-foot-4 and not considered recruitment material for all those Ivy League schools out there."
She still loved the sport, though, even at New College, where no team existed. So, Ginsberg-Klemmt said, she asked herself: Does she have what it takes to change that? Does she have the ability to start a team from scratch, to give rowers like herself more opportunities no matter their stature or ability level?
It turns out, she did. You could see the pride on her face at the press conference, sporting a New College rowing tee and showing off the club's signature oars, which will feature a dark blue spiral on a light blue background.
With New Crew SRQ, Ginsberg-Klemmt is putting an emphasis on diversity, both in general terms and in rowing terms. There are no barriers to entry, no time you have to beat in order to prove yourself. You don't even have to attend New College. Students at other local colleges can apply for a spot on the team if their school does not have its own rowing team. Though the idea itself is not novel, New Crew SRQ will be the first multi-school rowing club on the Suncoast.
The creation of this program is only a positive for Sarasota. The Sarasota Crew (and the Sarasota Scullers) put a lot of rowers on college teams, but not all of them, or even the majority. It's nice that those rowers will now have an option to continue their athletic careers close to home, and to do it in a beautiful spot. Or maybe there are athletes out there who never tried rowing in their youth, but see New Crew SRQ as an easy way into the sport. If I was still in college, it would be something I considered for sure.
Congrats to New Crew SRQ on its launch — and cool-looking oars, too. I can't wait to watch the program grow.