GENERAL CREW CLUB QUESTIONS
Frequently asked questions
General Crew Club Questions
What is the McLean Crew Club?
The McLean Crew Club (MCC) is a Virginia High School League (VHSL) sponsored interscholastic club. Club sports in Fairfax County do not receive financial aid from the school or the county. The MCC promotes, supports, and operates the rowing program at McLean High School. Established in 1996, MCC is a growing program that involves about 90+ student athletes annually and is recognized for its top-quality coaching staff, its dedicated athletes, and its success in local, regional, and national competitions. MCC athletes also are outstanding students who are strongly committed to academics; the discipline and time-management skills needed to become an outstanding athlete often translate into excellence in schoolwork.
What's Rowing all about?
Rowing is an exciting, competitive sport involving skill, teamwork, strength, and endurance. The men’s and women’s teams are organized by skill and, in some cases, weight. Crews are identified by the number of rowers in a shell or boat, typically eights or fours, with an on-board captain known as the coxswain. They generally race against each other on measured 1,500-meter courses. To learn more about rowing, go to www.usrowing.org.
Can I letter in Crew?
Yes. McLean High School does recognize the program with varsity status and thus provides Varsity Letters to qualifying crew members. Varsity Letters are awarded at the Spring sports awards ceremony to rowers and coxswains who:
Participate successfully in a Championship Event at the State Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association Championships, and
Consistently participate in mandatory and non-mandatory activities such as de-rigging for a regatta, rigging and racking boats after a regatta, work sessions with the coaches at the boathouse, etc.
Do I have to be a good athlete to do crew?
If you are willing to work hard and can pass a basic swim test, you can become a rower. Crew demands endurance, strength, discipline, skill, and teamwork. All students can develop endurance and strength through regular training. Coaches, team captains, and other experienced team members teach discipline, skills, and teamwork. The crew program provides opportunities for students with a wide range of athletic abilities.
I've never rowed before. Can I still do crew?
Yes. Most students who join the team have no previous rowing experience.
Are there any height or weight requirements for rowers and coxswains?
Not really. Although rowers in some boats (classed as lightweights) must be within a weight limit (typically 130 pounds for women and 155 pounds for men), there are no upper or lower weight limits for rowers in most boats. Although height can be an advantage for rowers, strength and endurance are more important. Coxswains are usually small and light. The best coxswains are smart, light, verbal, confident, and have some rowing experience.
Do I have to try out for the team? What is required to be a member?
McLean Crew accepts all interested and motivated students. There is a limit to the number of rowers the team can manage, however. At the end of the winter conditioning program, the coaches may need to will make cuts to getcounsel rowers the team tto get the proper size teams for our spring season. No previous rowing or athletic experience is required, however a rower must reach a certain level of ability before they can row on the water and race in regattas. All new students, must do the following:
Pass a swim test to demonstrate that they can swim 100 meters and tread water for five minutes, fully dressed. (Personal flotation devices are not worn in the shells, so all rowers and coxswains must be good swimmers.) The club will hold swim tests at several times/locations in the fall and winter.
Complete all required paperwork (visit our forms section on the website), including a VHSL Athletic Participation/Parent Consent/Physical Examination form (which must be signed by a physician and turned in to the McLean High School Activities office).
Maintain academic eligibility under VHSL rules.
Pay required fees.
Attend practices regularly.
Participate in mandatory club fundraising activities.
Attend Spring Break Training Camp (additional cost)
How is the club funded?
The club is entirely self-funded. We receive no financial aid from the school system or the county or state. Most of the expense of crew is attributable to transportation (practice is on the Potomac River), equipment, maintenance costs, and coaches’ salaries. For example:
An eight-person shell (boat) costs more than $40,000; oars cost more than $400 each; ergs more than $900; cox boxes (the voice amplification system used by coxswains) more than $600. Launches and outboard motors also are expensive. All of this equipment must be purchased, maintained and, ultimately, replaced. The club also must pay fees for boat storage, insurance, and administrative expenses. Rowers’ fees cover approximately half of the club’s total costs; rowers and their parents must raise the other half through a series of fundraising events. Remember, the club receives no financial support from McLean High School, its athletic booster club, or the county.
Are there any other required/optional expenses?
Yes. Each rower must purchase a uniform (a one-piece, sleeveless unitard and long-sleeved shirt), which costs approximately $130. Optional team apparel (sweats, shirts, hats, visors, jackets, etc.) also can be ordered at an additional cost. Club members are encouraged to travel to the Stotesbury Cup Regatta, the held in Philadelphia in May, whether they are competing or not at a cost of approximately $450. Rowers traveling to additional out-of-town regattas (usually Nationals) will pay an additional fee to cover transportation, food, lodging, and event registration expenses. A summary of estimated expenses is included in the MCC Handbook.
Must parents do anything other than pay the bills?
Yes. Every family must contribute to the effort by participating in fundraising activities and volunteering at our regattas each spring. There are also numerous volunteer positions through the year to: maintain equipment, transport students to and from practices and regattas, chaperone activities and support the club activities in a multitude of ways. A point system has been instituted in order to more fairly spread the volunteering and fundraising burden among club members and their families. Each family much contribute the minimum required number of volunteer duties as outlined in the annual Membership Agreement. In addition, the system allows a family to lower dues by agreeing to additional volunteer duties throughout the year.
What is the schedule for crew? When does the season start?
Crew is VHSL spring season sport, but there are crew activities during the other seasons to help prepare for the spring.
MCC’s Learn to Row program starts in late-September and runs through October and is designed to introduce freshmen and novices to rowing on the water. We hold optional sessions to instruct participants in learning how to rig a shell, carry a shell, boar a shell and rowing technique – or to become a coxswain. Our coaches motivate and inspire our novices to accomplish great things.
Some experienced rowers compete in club racing through local boat clubs during the fall.
Winter conditioning begins in November and goes through February. Work-out sessions are usually helded every day, except Sundays, at McLean High School, predominately on ergometers (rowing machines, often call “ergs”), as well as weight-lifting and yoga. It enables rowers to intensify their training and conditioning, and to compete both regionally and nationally in ergometer competitions.
The spring competitive season, or Regatta Season, runs from early March through May and is what every rower has been working towards. During this season, the rowers are transported from MHS to Thompson’s Boat Center (TBC) in Georgetown for on-the-water practices on the Potomac River six days a wekk. MCC competes on Saturdays in five or six local and regional regattas on the Potomac and Occoquan rivers. Selected/qualifying boats will travel to the largest regatta on the east coast, Stotesbury, in Philadephia, PA in May and qualifying boats will continue to Nationals at an out-of-town regatta.
Does this mean I can't participate in any other sport at McLean High School?
No. Many rowers participate in other sports including field hockey, basketball, football, and swimming and diving during the fall and winter seasons. Rowers who plan to participate in a winter sport are required to discuss this with their crew coaches to arrange for a modified training/conditioning program that does not conflict with the other sport. You cannot, however, participate in another spring sport or after school activity.
Where does the team practice?
During the spring season, McLean Crew rows on the Potomac River out of Thompson Boat Center (TBC) in Georgetown. Land training and conditioning sessions are held throughout the school year at McLean High School.
How are crews (or "boats") selected?
All boat selection decisions are made by the coaches. They consider many factors when making these decisions, including attitude, attendance, consistency, ergometer scores, racing performance and past experience. Boat assignments may change during the regatta season. Not all team members will race in all regattas.
What about safety?
Although crew is a water sport with some inherent dangers, safety is the club’s top priority. First and foremost, we emphasize boat safety and the proper use of all equipment. Our coaches are trained for any emergency situation. Boats are supervised by coaches in motor launches at all times. Although rowers and coxswains do not wear personal flotation devices, coaches and anyone riding with them in the launches are required to do so, and to carry enough PFDs in the launch for the rowers they are supervising.
Sounds good! How do I sign up?
Parents of interested students should attend the Interest Meetings in September to learn more and sign up for Learn to Row if interested. Registration for the team will be made available on this website in the fall and circulated to interested students. Parents should plan to attend the monthly membership meetings which are generally held the second or third Wednesday of each month October thru May at McLean High School. Students can participate in other sports during the fall and winter and still participate in the spring crew season, so don’t hesitate to inquire if your student expresses interest. Likewise, they can participate in Fall and Winter training even if they are not able to participate in Spring rowing.
I still have a few questions. Who can answer them?
Please contact the President with any questions (firstname.lastname@example.org)