Community wellness through rowing

Welcome to a great team!

Rowing is the ultimate team sport. Rowers work together in long, sleek racing shells and push the boundaries of their physical limits to make the crew successful. Unlike traditional sports such as baseball, football, tennis, or soccer, virtually all Grand Rapids Junior Rowing athletes have no prior rowing experience. In this respect, crew can be a fresh start in a sport that is increasing in popularity across the country.

If you truly enjoy new challenges and have the drive to work hard, the rewards of rowing with Grand Rapids Junior Rowing can be great.

Junior rowers develop high levels of physical strength and learn new skills while having fun, making friends, and testing their rowing prowess against teams from across the Midwest.

Regattas - Get ready to race!

You won’t sit the bench in crew. Known as regattas, rowing competitions have events divided by skill, weight, gender, and boat type. This affords every team member the chance to compete for medals. We typically compete in 3-4 regattas during the Fall season, 1-2 indoor regattas in the Winter, 3-4 regattas in the Spring and 2-3 regattas in the Summer. Regattas are typically held on Saturdays and/or Sundays and often include local or regional travel.

Sprint Racing - During the spring season, athletes race over distances of 1,500 to 2,000 meters up to six lanes across. In the summer, races are typically only 1,000 meters.

Head Racing - In the fall, regattas consist of head races where athletes row distances of 3,000 to 5,000 meters. Crews cross the start line one at a time, typically five to ten seconds apart, and race against the clock.

Indoor Racing - Often referred to as ergattas, athletes race a distance of 2,000 meters on a rowing machine (commonly known as an erg, which is short for ergometer). The rowing machines are connected to a computer timing system that displays the progress of the race on a screen for spectators.

Beginner, Novice, & Varsity

The GR Junior Rowing program has three levels:

Beginner - this level is for those who are new the sport. Our beginner program runs for four to six weeks and focuses on teaching athletes the basics of the sport.

Novice - Novice is defined as a first year rower. After completing the beginner level, athletes join the novice squad where the train to compete in novice events at regattas, racing against other first-year rowers.

Varsity - a varsity rower is an athlete with a year or more of experience. We do not have tryouts for the varsity squad and rowers automatically progress to this level after a year of rowing. At the varsity level, athletes are arranged into different level boats, according to their abilities, for competition.

GR Junior Rowing has a novice squad and varsity squad. A number of GR Junior rowers have placed in national competitions (including one recent national gold medal) and many have gone on to earn seats in collegiate crews (some with full scholarships).

Seasons

GR Junior Rowing offers rowing opportunities throughout the year (including an indoor winter conditioning program). 

Winter - Held January through February, the winter season consists of indoor training using the rowing machine and cross training, including circuit workouts and running. Winter training focuses on building strength and endurance in preparation for the spring season.

Spring - The primary racing season, spring runs from early March through late May. Practices begin indoors, but move to the water as soon as the weather allows. Practices focus on preparing for regattas.

Summer - During the summer months of June, July, and August, the Junior Program offers a series of camps and clinics for all levels. Offerings typically include sculling and sweep focus, developing new skills, and competitive training racing opportunities.

Fall - The fall season runs early September through late October. Practices focus on improving technique and endurance for head races, which are held over longer distances.

Equipment and Facilities

Our boathouse and dock are located on the Grand River at 291 North Park Street NW. We are lucky to have a fantastic stretch of the Grand River for practice, and also have nearly 200 feet of dock for launching. The team’s fleet of boats consists of shells designed for 1, 2, 4, and 8 rowers. Most of our racing is known as “sweep” rowing in boats of two, four or eight rowers. Sweep rowers each use one 12 foot long oar, as opposed to “sculling” where the rower has two smaller 10 foot oars, and is usually done in quads (4 rowers), doubles (two rowers), or singles (one rower). There are plenty of opportunities for everyone to row.

Eights

The biggest and fastest boats are the eights, which are nearly sixty feet in length and weigh approximately 210 – 240 pounds. They have eight rowers and a coxswain (pronounced COX-n). While the coxswain does not row, he or she is extremely important. Besides steering the shell, the coxswain serves as an on-board coach to lead and coordinate the crew with a series of commands.

Eight legend

In addition to boats and oars, the rowing team has a trailer for hauling our boats to regattas, several motorized coaching/safety launches that are on the water during practice, and rowing machines for indoor conditioning. We have several tents, tables, stoves, and other equipment used to provide meals, shelter, and a place to rest for our rowers during the day-long regattas.

Common Rowing Vocabulary (USRowing)

Organization

Grand Rapids Rowing Association

Grand Rapids Junior Rowing is the high school program of the Grand Rapids Rowing Association. The organization is primarily self-funded, and operation relies heavily on memberships, program fees, grants, sponsorships and donations for support. The Grand Rapids Rowing Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization, and all donations are fully tax-deductible.

Grand Rapids Junior Rowing Parent Association

The Grand Rapids Junior Rowing Parent Association is a parent support organization that supports the junior team. Led by a small board, the Parent Association engages parents, guardians, and team supporters in arranging travel, holding fundraisers, supplying and staffing the team tent at regattas, and more. Parent support is crucial to the success of the team and everyone is welcome and encouraged to get involved.

Cost of Rowing

The basic cost of rowing is determined before each season. Costs cover expenses of such as equipment, coaching, boathouse, insurance and team operations.

Travel

Rowing is a travel intensive sport. The team typically attends two to three out of town regattas each season. Expenses associated with travel, such as transportation, lodging, and meals, are not included in the basic season cost. The Parent Boosters work with the coaching staff to arrange transportation and lodging, when necessary, for away races and there is an additional travel fee that is paid to the Boosters to cover these costs. Typically a fundraiser is offered in the spring and fall to help offset these costs. 

Clothing

Novice rowers usually wear team t-shirts for racing, while varsity rowers purchase a unisuit, a one-piece spandex uniform in GR colors that is specifically designed for top rowing performance. 

Rowers may purchase sweatshirts, hats and rowing jackets from the team. Rowers will need running shoes for conditioning and “weather appropriate” athletic clothing.

How to join

Our website has become our most important method of communication and your best source of information. Please continue to check this page and the rest of the website for program information, as well as contact information for coaches and other helpful individuals.

Current season information

Adjusting a shell seat
Rowing boats are called shells. Juniors adjusting the seat rail in the shell before a regatta.
Single
A single shell consists of one sculler, a rower with two oars.
Double
A double shell consists of two scullers, using two oars each.
Pair
A pair shell consists of two sweep rowers, each using a single oar.
Four
A four shell consists of four sweep rowers, each with one oar, plus one coxswain.
Eight
An eight shell consists of eight sweep rowers, each with one oar, plus one coxswain.
Coxswain
In fours and eights, a coxswain faces forward, steers the shell and provides directions to the rowers.
Winter Ergatta
Indoor rowing ergattas are held during the Winter season.

GRRA is a member of

USRowing logo
State Games of Michigan logo

GRRA is a member of

North American Rowing Association logo
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