In rowing as in life, there are competitors and there are racers. The competitor works
hard and rows to his limit. The racer does not think of limits. Only the race.
-Jim Dietz, Rowing Coach, USCGA
"WE ARE COMMITTED TO EACH OTHER AS ROWERS AND AS TEAMMATES."
ROWING FOR MSU
It takes a unique person to be a member of the longest running club team at Murray State University. It takes a certain person to take on the responsibility of representing the first collegiate rowing team in the state of Kentucky. It takes a special man to be a member of the only men’s collegiate rowing program in the entire state of Kentucky. It takes a special woman to uphold the honor and tradition of wearing the white cap on the racecourse. It takes the best to be a part of the best.
Murray State Rowing is a student organization that exists to further the sport of rowing at Murray State University and the state of Kentucky. We are committed to the following principles:
We are committed rowers that seek to further
our ability and skill in rowing.
We are committed as rowers and students to expand our knowledge of the world and further our intellectual capacity. As university students, we will not compromise our main purpose of attending Murray State University.
We are committed to a winning tradition and achieving victory at all regattas. We will not accept anything less than first place.
We are committed to each other as rowers and teammates. On or off the water, we function as one unit, one boat, one team.
"ON OR OFF THE WATER, WE FUNCTION AS ONE UNIT, ONE BOAT, ONE TEAM."
Matt Weaver is the current Head Coach of the Murray State University Crew. He rowed for Murray State from 2001 to 2006 and was president of the team for 2 of those years. In 2006, he became the graduate asistant for the women's team under Bill Mclean until 2008. In 2008, took over as head coach for the entire club and has continued since.
Roster coming soon...
"INVEST IN THE FUTURE OF MURRAY STATE ROWING."
With the start of the 2014-2015 season, Racer Rowing is poised for greatness. Yet with the large size of the team, the advanced age of much of our equipment, and the increased costs of routine operations (i.e., race fees, gas, lodging, etc.), the team needs your help to meet its fundraising goals.
Your generous contribution can help us keep down the price of membership dues that student athletes pay. Moreover, your contribution can help us make long-term investments that are vital to the future vitality of Racer Rowing.
Please make a commitment to Racer Rowing at a level appropriate to you and your financial situation. Below are suggested giving levels. All donations, large and small will help us move the program forward towards meeting its needs this season.
Your donation is tax deductible. Also, please keep in mind that some employers will match charitable gifts. Please contact your employer for information on matching gifts. Doing so could double the value of your donation. If you have any questions about donating to MSU Rowing, please contact Dan Lavit at 270.809.2160.
Your donation should be sent to:
The Murray State University Rowing Club
Attn: Dan Lavit
Murray State University
303 Sparks Hall
Murray, KY 42071
Checks can be made payable to MSU Foundation.
$50 - $99
MSU Crew T-shirt
MSU Crew Hat
Naming rights to an oar
Naming Rights to seat in existing boat
Naming rights to seat in the new 4+
"...UNBREAKABLE BONDS OF CAMARADERIE AND FRIENDSHIP."
Ever since its inception in 1996, hundreds of people have joined the ranks of Murray State Rowing. Through the spirit of the sport itself, these different people formed unbreakable bonds of friendship and camaraderie. Those bonds continue to this day, and in turn, those very alumni continue to support the team they know and love. To facilitate in this return, a loose collection of alums created The Racer Rowing Society, the alumni association for the rowing team.
THE RACER ROWING SOCIETY exists to encourage the maintenance of the rowing program at Murray State University at the highest possible level of excellence, no less than its traditional competitors. To provide financial support and inspiration toward that end and to provide the means for alumni and friends of the program to retain a close relationship with the crew program, their crewmates, and current student athletes.
Visit their website here: TheRacerRowingSociety.com
THE ORIGIN OF MSU ROWING
Many had doubts when MSU President Kern Alexander announced his plans to launch a rowing program in the fall of 1996. Locals wondered about the ivy-league sport’s place on a lake crowded with bass fishermen. The student newspaper mocked “Alexander’s Navy”. But students were interested because it provided a unique opportunity to be involved in something that couldn’t be found just anywhere. In fact, Murray State had the first collegiate rowing program in the state, two years before the University of Louisville.
THE INAUGURAL YEAR
The first practice saw 172 students attend “tryouts” at Stewart Stadium. Coaches Steve Marchino and Dan Lavit spent the first semester gathering equipment, searching for suitable water to row on, teaching the basics of the sport, and shrinking the size of the team through excessive running, erging, and 5:00 a.m. practices. By the spring racing season, the inaugural team of 31 student-athletes worked hard to establish a culture of commitment that has remained through the years. A Murray State coxswain was triumphantly thrown into the Natchitoches River for the first time after a duel race with Northwestern State University in the spring of 1997. And thus, a tradition of excellence began…
The first two years of rowing at Murray State set the stage for years to come. During that time: a stellar recruiting class was added to the first-year returnees; a brand new Dirigo 8 was added to the two questionable vessels the team used; and Cherokee Park was attained as a boathouse. Cherokee Park has historical significance due to its former use as the “black” state park during segregation. Among the many people that assisted during the program’s origins, Director of Student Life, Jim Baurer, was particularly helpful in helping the team acquire the prime lake location as well as the new equipment. With those improvements, the men’s and women’s teams competed throughout the south and Midwest, winning medals along the way.
The beginning of the third year marked a major change for Murray State’s rowing program. As a Title IX move, the University elevated the women’s team to NCAA status. This brought increased funding, scholarships, and an eager new head coach, Kelly McMonigle (later, Church). Former MSU rower, Jenny Hengehold, followed Kelly Chuch as the women’s coach in 2001, becoming one of the youngest NCAA coaches in America. Meanwhile, men’s rowing remained at the club level, but received some ancillary benefits of their association with their now more affluent sisters. A succession of intra-team coaching selections (Griffin, Freudenberg, Mulcahy, Holman, Weckman, Hewett-Ball) served the men’s team for years.
Through these years, the women’s teams learned to compete in a more competitive class. Both Church and Hengehold improved the team’s status with better recruiting and faster times. The men displayed flashes of dominance in the region, though they were sometimes hampered by tight funding and their own folly. Both teams added to a growing fleet during these years, most notably the men’s purchase of a heavyweight Vespoli 8 (supposedly) used by the U.S. Men’s Olympic Team in the 2000 Olympics.
In the fall of 2003, yankee Bill McLean was hired to take the helm of the women and men’s programs. Through great personal sacrifice, Coach McLean brought both teams together again. Though his primary duties were to the women’s program, a renewed sense of camaraderie was established between the men and women. The team also sought calmer practice waters and made a move to Kenlake State Park, which remains the team’s current base of operations. Here, a new boathouse was erected from an existing pavilion and the house was fitted with proper boat and equipment racks (and working bathrooms). Coach McLean recruited heavily for the women in building a competitive program, while the men continued success.
In the spring of 2008, funding for women’s and men’s rowing was cut, despite the outcries of students, parents and alumni. In tough budget times, the University was forced to make cuts to rowing (and other campus programs), though softball was added as a women’s sport the next year. Coaches McLean and Robert Montague moved on to other jobs, but their achievement outshine the ill-conceived and sudden cuts to a winning program. As evidence of Coach McLean’s building success, a total of eight female athletes transferred from MSU to take positions in boats at other Division 1 schools. The women’s team depleted, and neither team without funding, the rowing program at MSU was assumed dead.
As it turns out, the “end” of the program was not a decision for someone else to make. Remaining members of the men’s and women’s teams met in the summer of 2008 to discuss the team’s fate. Those men and women decided to continue their college experience the way they began it: as student-athletes. In pledging to continue as a club team, they chose to honor the tradition established by those before them and to represent MSU. The equipment (sans truck) was officially turned over to the club and arrangements were made to keep the team together as a student organization. With no funding, no coach, no method of transporting boats, the team limped into the fall semester…
Dedication and love of sport caused former rower and women’s graduate assistant coach, Matt Weaver, to step up to take the helm of both teams. Coach Weaver’s connection to current and past rowers combined with a honed technical expertise was exactly what the team needed. And, the next fall head race and spring racing seasons turned out to be the most successful in many ways. The outpouring of support from parents, alumni, and other friends of the program helped the financial stability of the team. The team itself worked to help pay for the purchase of a used truck to pull the boat trailer. For a full year, every weekend that wasn’t spent in competition was spent earning money for the team (ice storm cleanup, rent-a-rowers, RSEC clean-up, concessions, etc.). The team also had a resurgence of participation that introduced many novice rowers. Most importantly, the team focused on the task of making boats go fast on water.
Since the loss of University funding, the team has rededicated itself to training and improving. As the women’s varsity rebuilds, the women’s novice teams have won several medals. The men’s novice has seen similar success. The men’s varsity team, led by Torey Moore, William Pregliasco, James, Donahoe, “Uncle” Steve Irvan, and coxswain Caitlin Dunnagan, have kicked ass all over the region, culminating with an easy first place victory at SIRA (the most significant win the team has ever had) and a trip to the 2010 Club National Championships.
Since 1996, Murray State Rowing has had a tradition perseverance and triumph. The team has had plenty of characters (Moode, Aaron Butler to name two), and stories of victory, tragedy and comedy abound. There are now many alumni who have contributed blood, sweat, and flesh (…hand calluses) to the great rowing lore of Murray State University. Thanks to the continued support of alumni and the commitment of the student-athletes, the present and future of MSU Rowing is certain and the legacy grows.
The Alumni Cup – the annual race between the varsity members and the alumni returning for homecoming. The race has year-round implications as the smack talk competition heats up.
“Swamping” a boat – an unintended tradition at best. Nearly every coach has “sunk” a boat due to the unpredictable waters of Kentucky Lake. The one coach who claims not to have a boat swamped on his watch is rumored to have lost one in the fog.
1601 Farmer, the Bunk, the Rusty Buoy, Poplar Street – locations of late night revelry and victory dances (‘nuff said).
The David Kraemer Award – award given to the strongest pullers on the men’s and women’s team. This winner is generally identified by erg scores.
The Beaver Award – award given since 2007 to the most improved and hardest working member of the women’s and men’s teams.
The William Pregliasco Genuine Asshole Award – award given to the team member who keeps the team on track by yelling, acting grumpy, and otherwise behaving like a coach, in the coach’s absence. This role is underappreciated but essential. The award is named for its first winner, William Pregliasco, a genuine asshole.