This story is featured in the Spring 2018 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below how HPU’s club sports teach students valuable life skills such as time management and grit.
Six years ago, two students had a vision to create a rowing team at High Point University. Today, that team is competing against Division I teams.
The men’s and women’s club rowing teams began with a vision that students wanted to bring to life. Now, you could argue it is the most successful club sport on campus, earning numerous medals and holding a stout membership of more than 60 HPU students.
Two students, Sophia Andreatos and Katelyn Schultz, initiated the club rowing program at HPU in 2012. The growth has been tremendous in both the size of the club and success of the program.
And to top it off, the team’s development is purely built on word of mouth.
“The place where we find the majority of our members is at the Activities Fair on campus,” says Head Coach Burt Whicker. “I challenge our current members to bring at least one or two people to the fair, which then leads them to interest meetings.”
According to Whicker, nearly 80 percent of the current membership had not rowed before joining the club.
That is not uncommon in the sport. Unlike other sports, participants can begin rowing at any age and gain proficiency.
“One of the great things about rowing is over half of the current U.S. National Team didn’t start rowing until they were in college,” Whicker said. “Once rowing clicks with you, it will change your life.”
The sport altered Whicker’s life for the better. For more
than two decades, he was a competitive bicyclist before an accident in 1997 changed his course.
“I was searching for a full body workout that could replace cycling,” Whicker says. “I discovered rowing and it changed my life. I found a sport and a community that is totally unique. I immersed myself in the sport, learning everything I could about it while once again gaining the ability to compete on a national level.
“Choosing to be extraordinary is the mindset for this sport.”
That’s the mantra not only for HPU, but for the program, which has reached new heights in recent seasons thanks to the support from the university. The rowing program is unique in that it is the only club sport on campus with a full-time head coach. It is also the only club that competes against Division I programs.
Nevertheless, the program has found itself standing toe-to-toe with the big names in collegiate rowing, and coming out on equal footing.
In the past fall alone, the squad entered six boats at the Tail of the Tiger Regatta in Clemson, South Carolina, and came back with five medals, including a gold medal in the men’s Varsity Eight.
Both the men’s and women’s Novice Four won gold at the Head of the Ohio Regatta in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the women’s Varsity Four finished fifth in the Head of the Hooch Regatta, the second largest college regatta in the nation, held in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Going back to 2016, the program competed at the Dad Vails Regatta in Philadelphia, the largest collegiate regatta where every Division I program is represented. The men’s Varsity Lightweight Pair took home sixth while the women’s Novice Four finished 11th in the nation, standing near the top of club programs entered in the races.
It is a demanding but rewarding task to stay in rowing shape. In the course of a season, team members work on physical fitness, nutrition awareness, sports psychology and yoga to maintain their peak form.
“We teach our athletes how to row,” Whicker says. “Moreover, we’re preparing them for their future, such as how to excel in the face of a daunting challenge, how to persevere through seemingly endless hours of preparation to achieve a shared