Thursday, October 6, 2016

All Aboard: Copy from the 1997 Shield Sports Section Dedicated to the Inaugural Team

The Shield was campus institution that, like our own, faced an existential crisis as funding for many organizations was cut in 2008. Sadly, Murray State has not had a yearbook since, and its eighty-third volume marked its last. 

I purchased copies of The Shield throughout my years at Murray State. My favorite volume was produced in 1999--Brian Howell had a hand in many aspects of its production (a very careful examination of the 1999 yearbook reveals at least one well-hidden nod from my friend that still makes me've got to look really hard to find it!)

But the 1999 yearbook is a story for another time...For this post, I wanted to focus on the 1997 yearbook--when Murray State Crew made its first appearance within the Sports section of The Shield.

On pages 128-129, yearbook staff member, Shane Hughes introduces the club, accompanied by a collection of four photographs from our very early fall practices (including a photo from our early-November trip to Louisville). The photos are not of an especially great quality. I've decided not to scan them from my copy because I suspect that doing so would make them look worse. However, the full section may be viewed in its original form via the Murray State University Digital Archive.  I am going to include the captions for the photos, however, only because they are so pun-tastic....Shane Hughes and the yearbook staff must have really knocked themselves out coming up with all of these.

All aboard

Crew newest part of athletic tradition

Princeton, Yale, Murray State...Murray State? Yes, Murray State. This year marked the founding of the Murray State crew team [sic]. No longer will rowing be confined to the rivers of the Northeast.

The team was founded, in part, to attract students from other parts of the country and to introduce a new type of competition and recreation to the area. Murray State's proximity to the lakes area was also taken into consideration. School officials wanted to take advantage of the area's natural resources.

Classified as a club sport, crew was unique in that open tryouts were held. No one was cut, but several people left the team do to the physical demands of the sport.

"Most people unfamiliar with the sport do not realize how much physical endurance and discipline are required to participate," said Sherri Gallimore, director of intra-collegiate sports and recreation. 

A physically demanding as crew can be, the biggest challenge may lie in the mental aspect. Athletes are required to attend 5:30 a.m. practices. They are asked not only to perform at their highest personal levels but also to perform in sync with the rest of the team. 

"Crew is the ultimate team sport," head coach Steve Marchino said. "There are nine people per boat. Each must work in perfect unison with the others to achieve the greatest level of performance."

"To be successful, athletes must practice self-discipline and manage their time effectively," said team member Renah Rushing, a senior from Mayfield.

Another aspect of crew that separates it from other sports is the diversity of the athletes that participate. Through hours of practice, an unlikely combination of 35 participants that included an ex-Olympian, an ex-marine, as well as freshmen with no prior athletic experience was molded into a cohesive unit.

With the number of competitive sports for women at Murray State being limited, crew proved to be especially attractive to female athletes. Approximately two-thirds of the team was made up of women who may not have had the opportunity to step into the sporting arena had it not been for crew. 

After practicing through the fall semester, the team planned to participate in at least three competitions, or regattas, during the spring semester. Its performance in these first competitions would determine whether the team would be invited to other more prestigious competitions. The fact that the competitions were divided so that athletes of the same size and experience competed against each other worked in favor of the young squad.

The hard work and dedication of the founding members speaks well for the future of the program. 

"After future successes, I will be proud to say that I played a part in building the tradition," said team member Julie Matheny, a junior from Lone Oak.

Photo captions (pun for the whole family!!)

  • ROWING ON A RIVER--Jill Bendarczyk, Jamie Melendez and Jennifer Preher practice their technique. One of the main goals of the crew team [sic] was to just have fun.
  • MAKING WAVES--The crew team [sic] attempts to row in unison. After a rocky start, the team developed the precision necessary to be competitive.
  • ROW CALL--As the sun rises over the lake, head coach Steve Harchino [sic] supervises the men's team as they roll the shell into the lings. Since most practices started before 6 a.m., theam [sic] members had to get used to performing in the early morning hours.
  • SHELLING OUT--While on a weekend trip to Louisville, the team selects a shell from the Louisville Rowing Club. The trip provided the team with the opportunity to practice on the choppy waters of the Ohio River.

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