Fall Crew hones its skills

Members of the coxed quad (l to r) Eddie Grant ’25, Ethan Lee ’24, Andres Bartholdson ’24, Jackson Harrington ’24, and Ben Erskine ’25 at the Head of the Charles, October 22, 2023 – Dr. Symon Erskine

Rowing, both a fall and spring sport, is deeply rooted in tradition and camaraderie. Haverford’s crew team is one of the school’s most accomplished teams, and its end-of-season goals concerned some of the biggest races in the country: the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston and the Head of the Schuylkill in Philadelphia. 

“The fall season is a great opportunity for athletes to continue to improve and develop as athletes both on and off the river,” Head Coach Jonathan Stephanik said. “Though rowing in the fall is not required, the opportunity provides much-needed meters and techniques to improve the overall growth and competitiveness of the program.”

This year the team sent two boats to the Head of the Charles Regatta (HOCR). This 70-year-old regatta is the largest in the world and is known for steep competition. The first to go off was the Mens Youth 4+. In this race all four rowers have a single oar, and the boat is steered by the coxswain. In the boat, by seat order, was Sixth Former Henry Seward (coxswain), followed by Fifth Former Michael Bartholdson, Sixth Former Will Walker, Fifth Former Grey Benson and Fifth Former Noah Kanefsky. The boat took 16th out of 90 teams and missed a top-ten finish by a mere ten seconds. 

The second boat to go to HORC was the Men’s Youth Coxed Quads, where each of the four rowers had two oars. From bow to stern was Fifth Former Eddie Grant (coxswain), Sixth Former Ethan Lee, Sixth Former Anders Bartholdson, Sixth Former Jackson Harrington, and Fifth Former Ben Erskine.  Their boat took 10th out of 47. 

The Head of the Schuylkill is the only full-team regatta in the fall. At over fifty years old, this is the third largest regatta in the world where over 8,000 athletes compete. Fourteen Haverford boats rowed in the race with notable finishes from the Varsity Quad: Harrington, Lee, Kanefsky, and Erskine as well as the Novice Single with Third Former Benas Antanavicius.

Fall offers the team a great opportunity. 

“With the different racing structure—5k instead of 1500 meters—the team can try out athletes in different boats that they normally would not race during the spring and help them develop and see success in new areas,” Coach Jonathan Stephanik said. “I think these opportunities have given a new approach to the team’s goals and helped with the overall success of the fall season. Success in the fall is great but our team is planning on winning the championship races in the late spring.”

“Crew has done a lot for my life in the last four years, and I feel I owe a lot to this team. I’m going to try my best to fix what COVID destroyed and rebuild what was lost.”

Will Walker ’24

The team is also focused on strengthening its culture. 

“When I first joined the team in 2020, we were in the midst of COVID-19, and we had to physically distance ourselves from each other. For the next three years, there was never really any team culture,” captain Will Walker said. “Crew has done a lot for my life in the last four years, and I feel I owe a lot to this team. I’m going to try my best to fix what COVID destroyed and rebuild what was lost.”

Walker hopes to be able to impact his team.

“Hopefully, by the end of the year, we can achieve this sense of team respect and success which will last for a long time with the future leaders,” Walker said. 

While the crew team does not have competition on EA Day, there is hope that may change. 

“I think adding a head race to EA Day would be a fun idea,” says Walker. “Even if we didn’t train for it, it would be cool to see Haverford’s top-eight rowers vs. EA’s top-eight rowers head to head in a competitive race with the sweater on the line.”