Crew works through the wrinkles in fall season

New coach Brendan Cunningham is using the fall semester to establish a new identity for Temple Crew.

Temple Crew is working on finding its new identity before firing on all cylinders in the spring. | COURESY / TEMPLE ATHLETICS

Temple Crew began its fall season yesterday at the Navy Day Regatta, where it won two of its six races on the day. However, this competition meant more to the program beyond the final results. This fall, Temple Crew is rediscovering its identity and building its legacy.

The Owls entered the season with high expectations, as last year, they went to the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships and finished in second place. They closed the season with a win at the Dad Vail Regatta, just the second Points Trophy win in program history.

Despite the strong finish, Temple did not renew head coach Brian Perkins’ contract, and the program instead brought on Brendan Cunningham. A 2010 alumnus of the team, Cunningham has used his short time at the top to determine who will be the key members of the team in the future.

“The fall is really about building momentum,” Cunningham said. “It’s about identifying the guys that will be players moving forward to the spring.”

Temple Crew is trying to lay the foundation for a successful spring season while facing some of the better programs in the country, like Penn and Saint Joseph’s.

The Owls have a long history of success on the water. Under Perkins alone, the program was nationally ranked and won several regattas. 

Scott Gratson, director of undergraduate studies at Klein College of Media and Communication, has been a supporter of the team since 2005, and has even donated a boat to the program, named “The Professor,” in honor of him and his family.

Gratson has seen many iterations of Temple Crew, but he said this year’s team has a particular desire to be remembered as a vital part of the program’s history.

“They are hungry,” Gratson said. “The team pushes each other and has created a culture of joy, dedication, and camaraderie.”

However, to expand on that legacy, the Owls need to assess their squad throughout the fall season.

Temple will participate in four events in the fall. After yesterday’s Navy Day Regatta at the Schuylkill River, the Owls will go on to face local staples, like St. Joseph’s and Drexel, and see how they compare to some of the top teams in the Mid-Atlantic area.

Last season, the Owls finished toward the top of the team in points standings but behind Penn and the Naval Academy, so there is room for their times to improve. The Navy Day race was a measuring stick, highlighting the pair of Adam Oliver and Kenneth Raynor, who took first place, but also showing where improvements need to be made.

“The fall is being used by the team to work on the technical intricacies of the stroke,” Cunningham said. “The entire season is a competition to discover the fastest combination of students from this program to race against other schools and athletes doing the same thing.”

Temple will travel up the East Coast to race at one of the largest rowing competitions in the world, the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston on Oct. 22. The Owls will have 18 athletes compete for the top spot after finishing fourth last year. 

Head of the Charles is an “impact” race where Temple will take on some of the best teams in the country, Cunningham said. The Owls will compete against 41 other schools in the collegiate eights.

Both races are crucial to setting the team on the right path this year, and Crew’s captains will be a major presence on the roster. Co-Captains Oliver and Brandon Van Vuuren will help lead the team all year in their own ways, making sure the team is ready to compete every day and building the chemistry needed to win.

“Having trust in the guys you are rowing with is key,” Oliver said. “So is getting new guys integrated and finding that fastest combination possible.”

Winning is of the utmost importance to the Crew team, and medalling at the Dad Vails and the IRA championship does not just happen overnight. The Owls prepared all season, rowing against each other to assemble the best boats to earn the chance at making history.

“The expectation is to win,” Cunningham said. “The variable is the athlete and is up to us to figure out how we get the most out of the athletes we have.”

The fall season will be a time to continue to make winning a constant for the rowers. Cunningham and his team will look to build confidence this fall in order to find success and be remembered as one of the greatest Temple Crew teams of all time.

“We want to continue to work and get stronger each day,” Cunningham said. “Success breeds success.”

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