Sports

From the sand to the river

Two brothers share a boat for the crew team after growing up watching the sport.

For the DiPentino brothers, it all started at Lake Lenape.

As kids, Vincent and Vittorio DiPentino devoted much of their weekends to rowing, accompanied by Pennsylvania waters and sand.

Their introduction to the sport didn’t stem from time spent on a boat, however. It came through watching others on the river from afar.

At the respective ages of 10 and 8, Vincent and Vittorio each found rowing the least bit entertaining even though they turned up for races in support of their sister, Dana DiPentino, who rowed for Holy Spirit High School in South Jersey during the mid-2000s.

“They were terrible to go to,” said Vincent DiPentino, now a senior on Temple’s crew team. “You would just go and sit there all day and wait for a six-minute race. You would see only 30 seconds to a minute of it, and that was it.”

“It made me dislike the sport,” Vittorio DiPentino, a sophomore, added of his sister’s races. “It’s kind of a boring thing when you are not sure what on and what goes into it. So I never really appreciated the sport.”

Despite the early disdain, Vincent and Vittorio DiPentino are now among the four rowers in the lightweight Varsity 4 boat that opened Temple’s spring season with a victory.

The DiPentino brothers, alongside sophomore Dylan McCreavy, freshman Nicholas Olimpo and junior coxswain Kati Jordan Funck, surged past premiere rowing teams like the University of Michigan and Fordham at the Murphy Cup Regatta on March 28.

After rowing with mixed lineups during the fall, coach Gavin White said the two brothers just clicked.

“You could just tell right away the boat was going to be good,” White said. “Just like any other sport, certain athletes have chemistry. They both have similar styles and they are brothers, they get along like how brothers get along and they are seated really well together. They just naturally come together.”

The lightweight Varsity 4 boat features rowers who weigh less than 160 pounds, and the DiPentino brothers row on the opposite ends of Temple’s boat. Vincent DiPentino rows at the bow position, where he is responsible for setting up and balancing the boat, while Vittorio DiPentino strokes the boat at the stern, and is responsible for setting the pace and rhythm.

Vincent DiPentino went undefeated in Temple’s Freshman 4 boat in the 2011-12 season, and competed in the team’s lightweight Varsity 4 boat in 2012-13 season. As he was academically ineligible to compete last season, assistant coach Brian Perkins said, Vincent DiPentino is once again racing with a Temple squad, and he’s doing it with his brother during a collegiate spring season for the first time.

The brothers also competed together for Saint Augustine Preparatory School in South Jersey before donning Temple uniforms. After watching their sister row for Holy Spirit and later for the Temple’s rowing team for her first two years at the university, Vincent  dropped swimming and football his junior year at Saint Augustine to take part in its crew team, while Vittorio jumped right into the boat as a freshman.

“I wanted to do something in high school, so I figured I would try it out,” Vittorio DiPentino said. “I went to the first practice and it was an interesting feeling, so I kept going to them and then I got more interested in it.”

“You just grow to love it,” he added.

The same rowing spot that the DiPentino brothers grew up disliking became their safe haven in high school, as the team there held practices and county championships on Lake Lenape. They were no strangers to the Cooper River, either, where they opened their 2015 spring season at the Murphy Cup Regatta. The brothers each captured state championship victories on the Cooper River with Saint Augustine.

After 16 years of attending her children’s rowing races, Sharon DiPentino continues to support her sons by bringing food and drinks to each regatta. Now that they are rowing in the same boat, Sharon DiPentino said it’s exciting to watch her kids’ continued development on the river.

“It keeps them going in the right direction, as a team,” she said. “It always comes to play going out in the workforce, being a team player and respecting each other.”

Danielle Nelson can be reached at danielle.nelson@temple.edu.

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