The Collegian
Thursday, May 23, 2024

Pair of first-year students lead crew team as it enters new season

<p>The University of Richmond crew team. <em>Photo courtesy of University Richmond of Richmond Crew Facebook page.</em></p>

The University of Richmond crew team. Photo courtesy of University Richmond of Richmond Crew Facebook page.

When members of the crew club held elections in December for the club’s executive officer positions, a pair of first-year students were the only ones who ran for the top two roles.

Elizabeth Halasz said she and James Bachmann had known early on that they had wanted to serve in executive positions during the spring semester. The only question was who would fill which role.

“We discussed between each other and with our coach who would do what,” Halasz said. They ultimately decided that it would be best for Bachmann to run for president and Halasz to serve as vice president. 

“I knew that I’d be rushing this semester and I didn’t know what my commitments would be like,” Halasz said.

The crew team is the only sports club on campus to have first-year students serving as both its president and vice president, Wendy Sheppard, the university’s assistant director of sports and risk management said. The school’s sports club website lists 30 active clubs.

Bachmann has had to learn the lesser-known responsibilities of a club president, including communicating with Sheppard and other officials, on the job, he said. One of his biggest responsibilities, he said, was staying active in raising funds from the school and alumni to make the club more affordable.

“We want to keep dues as cheap as possible,” he said. “One of the things I hated about my crew team in high school was how expensive the dues were. I really think crew is such a great sport and a lot more people should be able to experience it.”

Halasz said her responsibilities as vice president included coordinating team travel and booking hotels for out-of-state regattas. She also helps Bachmann and the team’s coach, Tim Nesselrodt, communicate with the other members.

Halasz’s biggest challenge has been managing her time commitments, she said. On top of her role as crew vice president, she has a job and is a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority. 

Bachmann, on the other hand, said he had devoted all of his free time to the crew club. Though he plans on double majoring in psychology and business management, the crew team is the only student organization he has joined thus far.

Halasz, who is from Columbia, South Carolina, said she had begun rowing during her freshman year of high school. Bachmann attended high school in Vienna, Virginia, and also started rowing during his freshman year. Their combined eight years of high-school rowing experience made UR’s crew club a natural fit.

“We had the experience and knew what it was like to row,” Halasz said. “So I think it came naturally that we were leaders on the team. I felt comfortable taking a leadership role.”

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Halasz said first-year students made up a significant portion of this semester’s crew club, which she attributed to the difficult practice schedules of previous years. Last year, the team held practices exclusively in the morning. It resulted in several members quitting, Halasz and Bachmann said.

“If you’re going to bed late and waking up at 5, you’re getting hardly any sleep at all,” Halasz said. 

This year, the club switched to what Bachmann called a “hybrid system.” The new practice schedule gives new and returning members the option to row in the afternoon. Morning practices still exist, he said, but are now smaller sessions geared more toward competitive rowers. 

Halasz said the new schedule had helped membership. Bachmann agreed.

“I understand mornings aren’t for everyone,” he said. “I want to give the option for people to still row, but they have to keep in mind that they might not get as much attention as they would in the morning.”

Bachmann credited former crew club president Sara Cloonan with not only implementing the new practice system last semester but also helping him adjust to his new duties as president. 

“Sara’s been a great help when it comes to different things I need to be aware of and managing,” he said. “If I have any questions how best to organize things like practice schedules, she’s been a great asset in transition. She hasn’t left me out to dry at all.”

Both Bachmann and Halasz said they looked forward to continuing to row for the team in coming years while also serving in leadership roles.

“I know for a lot of students, it gets overwhelming because it’s such a huge chunk of your time,” Halasz said. “But I think at this point I’ve already committed myself to the team. The community that comes with crew is really important to me, and I think that it’s going to be a big part of my next four years in college.”

Bachmann said he would like to continue serving as president in future years to provide the club with stability. 

“Transitioning from president to president seems like a poor idea to me,” he said. “That means that every new president has to learn all the ropes, and after they learn all the ropes they’re replaced by someone else.”

The team’s first race of the season will be held on March 31, in Occoquan, Virginia, according to its website.

Contact sports writer Riley Blake at

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