For the first time in program history, the men’s crew team has more than doubled its roster count.
The crew program opened up its fall season with a 64-member roster, a far cry from last season’s 32-member team.
The increase in roster size comes after the crew program was initially part of Temple’s original seven varsity sports set for the chopping block last December. University officials later reversed its decision and reinstated the crew and rowing programs in February after almost three months of uncertainty.
Now with additional rowers, coach Gavin White said it should benefit his team.
“The boats will get even faster,” White said. “So it will help everybody, in theory.”
With only two rowers lost to graduation, the crew team is returning close to 30 of its members from last season, including six seniors.
Nevertheless, senior co-captain Connor Murphy said losing former members Fegal Barry and Zephyr Dippel, who rowed in the varsity eight boat and junior varsity eight boat that won bronze in the Dad Vail Regatta last season, respectively, “is like losing leadership.”
Now entering a new season, assistant coach Brian Perkins, the team’s recruiting coordinator, said although the program was set to be cut, they were able to add four transfers, seven experienced freshmen and close to 30 novices, students who have never rowed before, to the program.
“We saved a lot of the guys that we wanted,” Perkins said. “We lost a couple, obviously, but we saved a lot of the guys we wanted.”
The four transfers include a three juniors and one sophomore. Junior Matthew Mince rowed out of a club in Ohio. Junior Colin Bush, who rowed in high school, has been attending Temple for the past two years, but decided to join the team this fall.
Julia Wolanski joins Kati Jordan Funck as the two junior female coxswains on the men’s team this season. Wolanski is transferring from the women’s rowing team because of her work schedule conflict. The additional transfer is sophomore David Buckley, who spent a year at a Community College before joining Temple this semester, rowed out of a local high school.
The incoming experienced freshman rowing class also features student-athletes from some premier rowing high schools in the tri-state areastroked the men’s 4 boat to a first-place finish in the first race of the fall season at the King’s Head Regatta in King of Prussia on the last Sunday in September. , including Father Judge, La Salle, Roman Catholic, Holy Spirit and Doane Academy.
“These were the kids we were able to save because they were pretty local, but then we had another kid from Texas that just fell in our lap,” Perkins said. “He was a very pleasant surprise.”
The 6-foot-2-inch Dallas native, freshman Collin McKinney, is a former high school national champion.
Back in September, close to 33 novices initially tried out for the team, but since then Perkins said that the program has lost a few but still hovers around the 60-member mark.
Murphy said the program will only benefit from the increase in roster size.
“I think it will help a lot because we can go out and recruit as many people as we want and we will have spots for them here,” Murphy said. “For the past few years we had to cut guys, which kind of limited us with what we can do.”
To help the coaching staff with the new roster, a new graduate assistant has been added to the program. Temple crew alum Patrick Curran will be working alongside assistant coach Dan Goethner with the novice group.
With a 50-plus member team comes another issue. White said the crew team is now looking to purchase additional equipment. Until then, the experienced rowers including the transfers and experienced freshmen will practice in the morning, while the novice group will practice in the afternoon.
In addition to the two motor boats, Perkins said the program looks to purchase a new motor boat for the four-member coaching staff.
While the primary rowing season is in the Spring, the crew team will use this fall season as a test, as individual rowers vie for a positions in the varsity eight boat among other boats for the spring season.
“The fall is our non-primary season so we just switch guys around and give them new looks,” Perkins said. “The spring is when we really decide who goes into what boat. We probably have 20 guys who could make the varsity eight.”
“We are giving everybody a look,” Perkins added. “Because there are seven guys back from the varsity 8 doesn’t mean that those seven guys are automatically in. There are eight open seats in the varsity eight regardless of what boat you were in last year or what boat they there in the year before. So hopefully everybody think they have a shot.”
There will be six more rowing competitions this fall before the coaching staff selects the rowers’ boat positions. The next race is the Navy Day Regatta on the Schuylkill River on Oct. 11.
Danielle Nelson can be reached at email@example.com or on twitter @Dan_Nels.