Rowers welcome new blood

Magnus Weissenberger ’21, Henri Waché ’21, Brian Williams ’21 and Jonny Sonnenfeld ’20 in a four last year – Mr. Jim Roese

The rowing team is a mystery to many Haverford students. The squad practices year-round and is rarely on campus. In what most would consider a rebuilding year, the crew team remains positive. After graduating three excellent rowers in the class of 2019, this year’s top boats will be unrecognizable. 

     The boys got a frigid start as they returned to the water last month.

     “It’s always freezing in February and we don’t wear gloves,” Fifth Former Bryson Bernhardt said. “Our feet get wet when we launch the boats, so the first few weeks can be a struggle.”

     Regardless, Bernhardt believes temperatures have not affected team morale.

     “The atmosphere of the team is really good this year. We are still having fun even though it’s so cold,” Bernhardt said.

     The first few weeks of spring rowing serve as a transition period from winter indoor rowing on the ergometer to the much different and more technical movement of rowing in a boat.

     “We’ve mostly been working on technique because it doesn’t matter how strong you are if you have bad technique,” Bernhardt said. “The boat will go slow and could even flip.”

     After the graduation of veteran rowers Jeff Pendergast, Aidan Leavy, and Thomas Russell, the crew team will rely on different members this year.

     “We have a really young team with lots of sophomores and freshmen,” Bernhardt said. “Regardless of their age, the younger guys are all extremely promising, and I have high hopes for this upcoming championship season.”

     The new-look Fords will get their first taste of racing on Sunday, March 15 in a season schedule that is very different from most other sports. Instead of the so-called “regular season,” the rowers have the Manny Flicks. The Manny Flicks are a series of five regattas on Sundays from March through April that give crews the chance to get used to racing before the big three: Championships, Stotesbury Regatta, and Scholastic Nationals. 

     “Many people don’t realize it but we are one of the more successful teams on campus. We’ve had countless top-three finishes at national championships.” 

Bryson Bernhardt ’21

     The relative obscurity of the rowing team on campus can lead to frequent, misinformed rumors—for instance, that rowing is a dying sport at Haverford.

     “We have more freshmen than we know what to do with,” said Bernhardt, “and our junior varsity squad is teeming with talent. People just think no one is on the team because we are never on campus.” 

     According to Bernhardt, most students do not know much about the team.

     “People throw the name ‘Boathouse Row’ at me all the time but are always surprised to learn we don’t row there,” Bernhardt said.

     The rowing team has a spectacular, state-of-the-art facility on the banks of the Upper Schuylkill in Conshohocken.

     “Not only are we not on Boathouse Bow, but we also can’t even row there from our boathouse,” Bernhardt said. “There’s a dam halfway between us.”

     Bernhardt encourages student fans to attend races to learn more about the sport.

     “I know it’s not the most convenient thing,” Bernhardt said. “But we have a great spectator tent right at the finish line with lots of food and someone’s always grilling—it’s a fun time.”

Author: Jonny Sonnenfeld '20

Jonny Sonnenfeld '20 is a journalism student who has written for The Index throughout the past four years. He is in honors English and won a gold key this year from the scholastic arts and writing. His chili in a bread bowl article was responsible for the reintroduction of the meal in the surrounding area.