Even after the crew program was reinstated last year, local high school rowers from the St. Joe’s Gillin Boat Club and others on boathouse row were still hesitant about rowing for Temple.
So when St. Joseph’s Preparatory School rower Steve Gennaro surprised his teammates with his decision to row for the Owls, his friends were a little skeptical.
“All of my friends were like ‘Why would you want to go there?’” Gennaro said. They just cut the program, they can do it again, blah, blah, blah.’”
After much thought, Gennaro came to Temple.
“Coming here and seeing that the program was literally cut like one year ago, like it didn’t exist, and then they brought it back is looking like it’s coming back stronger than ever,” Gennaro said. “That kind of interested me to be a part of something that is not completely new. It’s just restarting.”
While there are some Philadelphia natives, like Gennaro, added to the roster this season, many of the new recruits are from various parts of the world including Chicago, Massachusetts and England.
There are 12 freshman recruits, one transfer and another pending transfer who should be on the team in the Spring, assistant coach Brian Perkins said. All 13 recruits are rowers, which means no coxswains were added to the roster.
The team currently has five veteran coxswains, who are not qualified to be novice coxswains because they have rowing experience. A novice coxswain can be any student on campus without experience and the coaching staff is looking to add two novice coxswains this fall.
“So in the fall, what we are going to do is find someone on campus,” Perkins said. “There are 38,000 people on campus, 5,000 freshmen came in, there has to be a coxswain on campus.”
Next year, the crew team will be graduating 18 rowers. With that in mind, the coaching staff will invest much of their time this season in creating future leaders out of the new addition to the program.
“We need to replace these 18 guys who are graduating with these 13, 14 guys,” Perkins said. “So they need to step up and be leaders immediately. Some of them will get a shot at the varsity 8, but a lot of them are going to row freshmen 8 and they need to develop and be ready to step into a leadership role, boom, their sophomore year. This senior class has a lot of potential and they are going to be hard to replace.”
Although all nine of the rowers from the varsity 8 boat returned this season, the team realizes that some freshmen have the potential to row in the varsity 8 boat.
“Yes, 99.9 percent sure two of them will be in the varsity 8” sophomore Collin Mckinney said. “There are two recruits who I think are gonna be what we need this year to help finally get that last push to put Temple back to where it used to be.”
Danielle Nelson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Dan_Nels.