“I tried other sports and I wanted to try a sport that would challenge me more, that would push me to my limits,” said Olivia Allain, a fifth season varsity rower, when asked why she joined Hilton Head Island Crew.
Open to any local high school students with the desire to learn to row, Hilton Head Crew challenges all its members to push themselves physically and mentally, but also allows them to enjoy the waterways and ocean in their own backyard.
On Feb. 20, the team will host a fundraiser, Pigs and Pearls, from 1 to 5 p.m. at Hilton Head Community Rowing and Sailing Center, 137 Squire Pope Rd., launching point for crew practice.
Team members hope to raise money for boat repairs, race fees, transportation and the overall costs the non-profit crew accrues. The oyster roast and barbeque by the water will include live music, a silent auction and additional attractions. Tickets are $25 per person.
Hilton Head Island Crew is composed of dedicated students who practice five days a week, training for 2,000-meter races, which are held throughout the region.
There are two roles for crew members, rower and coxswain. As the name implies, a rower is one who rows. The coxswain sits in the boat facing the rowers and serves as motivator, director and the coach’s representative in the boat.
Lu Strayer and David Erdman, both of whom are U.S. Rowing certified coaches, volunteer their time to coach crew because they have found such joy in this sport. They want to offer local athletes a chance to experience something that many would not otherwise get the opportunity to try.
HHI Crew began as a club sport for Hilton Head Island High School in 1995, in association with the Palmetto Rowing Club, started that year by islander Bill Killhour. Several years later, when the school sports requirements changed, the crew had to regroup.
Parents chipped in and bought two boats to restart the team. In the spring of 2008, HHI Crew was revived. The team, now open to students throughout the community, has been competing in regional regattas ever since.
In the past seven years, five members have been offered full scholarships to various colleges.
Both Strayer and Erdman believe that this season, the crew has a chance of “becoming truly competitive,” as Erdman said. The team is ready to make changes, to improve, to place. This 2016 Spring Season, the crew has high hopes of achieving such goals.
For more information about crew, or to purchase tickets for Pigs and Pearls, call 843-540-4323.
Freelance writer Elizabeth Winn of Bluffton is a home-schooled high school senior and a member of Hilton Head Island Crew.