Crew has a reputation as being a sport for the wealthy, but Stonington High School girls crew coach Bruce Yarnall says that he finds it’s a sport that opens up opportunity for students of all backgrounds.
“One of the great things about crew is that everyone comes in ninth grade not knowing anything; all the students are starting as beginners,” says Yarnall, a Mystic Middle School special education teacher.
He adds that it’s an especially important opportunity for students who haven’t yet found a sport they enjoy and may struggle with the hand-eye coordination that many more popular sports require.
“It allows kids who don’t generally like ball sports to compete and be part of a team,” Yarnall says. During the fall and spring, approximately 90 Stonington students row.
It’s an expensive sport, however, which is why the Stonington crew teams are celebrating being awarded a $1,000 athletics grant from California Casualty.
“We will use the money to purchase a new set of grips for existing oars, oar locks, riggers, and possibly a seat,” says Yarnall. The school provides coaching stipends in the spring, as well as transportation to and from regattas, but the teams must fundraise to cover the many other costs involved, including gas for coach boats, oars, seats, riggers, stretchers (the shoes rowers put their feet in), repairs to the boats and motors, and to cover the cost of rowing shells themselves, which can run more than $40,000.