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photo of novice crew race

Freshman Girls Take On The Start Of Crew Season

The spring crew season is officially in full swing, as teammates come together to compete in practices and races everyday throughout the next three months. Crew is a high-impact sport that involves a lot of preparation, practice, dedication, and team efforts from both the members of the team as well as the group as a whole. This sport is only offered in high school, which means freshmen are just beginning to learn the ropes of it all. After speaking with a few freshman girls on the novice crew team, it is clear that this has not been an easy adjustment. However, they have had a strong start of their four year crew journey. 


Try-outs are taken very seriously by not only students just starting out, but existing crew members as well. It begins in the winter months, as students train in the weight room with exercises such as running, weights, and erging, four days out of a week. Freshman Emma Chell, describes the process as, “Tough, because there were a lot of girls trying out for only 15 spots on the team, so I had to work extra hard.” After training ends, the real try-outs begin. Students head to Kearny for the swim test, which includes treading water for five minutes, and swimming the length of the pool. This is to make sure that in case of an emergency, students are able to swim back to land from the boat. Following the swim test, is the plank test, sit up test, and running test that all lead up to the final interview. 


The final interview is a meeting with Coach Divillo, the novice coach. Aspiring team members must explain why they want to join the team, describe what they will gain by participating in the sport, and identify their strengths and value to the team. Once the interview process is complete, tryouts are officially over and the only thing left is to find out if you made the team. After school on Friday, March fourth, students waited in the hallway to hear the good (or not so good) news from Coach Divillio. The feeling of relief after being told you made the team is what makes all the long hours of training worth it, according to the novice crew members. “The feeling of getting in is something that will never leave my side. When I was called into the hallway I had a knot in my stomach but once my coach told me I had made the team, it felt like a weight was lifted from my shoulders,” says Ava Chrysoulakis, one of the novice crew team’s newest members.


After the novice crew team roster is finalized, they begin preparing for their first race. Hours and hours are put in everyday, as novice students get on the water for the first time and learn to row their boats as a team. This is probably one of the hardest aspects of crew for freshman because they need to learn how to work together in a short amount of time.  “Being on the boat in general requires a lot of teamwork, so it can be hard to get everyone together,” says Emma. It is not just the practices that are difficult for team members. Juggling friends, family, schoolwork, and practice has been a struggle for most of the novice team. “I’ve learned a lot about time management so far,” Caitlin Chua says. “Especially using times like lunch and being more efficient in class to get the most done that I can so that I am not stressing as much when I get home.” Adjusting to the rigorous schedule is something new for these girls, but they have risen to the challenge.


The hard work that these students put in every day is worthwhile, as they compete in races against other teams around the area. On March 26, 2022, the crew team had their first race of the season in Kearny NJ. Members of the team recall being “extremely nervous” leading up to the race. This was the moment all of the girls needed to come together and listen to the coxswain (the person who is in charge of the boat, makes calls, and makes sure the boat is steered correctly). “In the middle of our race, someone caught a crab (the oar got stuck in water) which caused us to stop and get pulled off course. This caused everyone to become frustrated and lose the teamwork aspect,” says Emma. Luckily, the team was able to persevere and placed fourth. 


It is evident that the Nutley Crew Team is dedicated to their sport and members love the atmosphere crew has created. When asked about her future regarding crew, Ava said, “I do plan on continuing to do crew throughout the rest of high school because although it is hard to balance it all, I’m grateful for the people I have met and there truly is no other sport like this.” Even though they’re only freshmen, these girls have already shown a love for the sport and continue to improve each and every day. Their hard work and effort is already paying off and this is just the start of a great future in crew for the novice team.