Crew Team Members Row For Stream Of Donations

Elise Foley

By Elise FoleyThe Daily Northwestern

Northwestern crew team member Joe Buckley finally got a chance to show his friend that rowing is a real sport on Friday.

Buckley challenged Alex DeSocio, a Weinberg and Music freshman, to a race during the crew team’s annual Ergathon fundraiser.

“Alex and I had been jarring each other because he’s this football guy, and I’m this little wiry rower-guy,” said Buckley, a SESP freshman. “Since we’re not a varsity sport, he’ll jokingly call me a fake athlete.”

Before they raced, Buckley said he showed DeSocio how to row on an ergometer, one of four indoor rowing machines the group set up inside Norris University Center. Two machines also were set up outside the front entrance of Norris.

“We spent a few minutes teaching him so it would be fair,” Buckley said. “Otherwise it’s like challenging a footrace to someone who doesn’t know how to walk.”

The Ergathon took place from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday. The event raised about $400 for the crew team, said Medill senior Tiffany Wilson, team co-president.

Almost all of the 55 crew team members came for at least one hour to practice on the ergometer or race a donor in the 500-meter-sprint challenge, Wilson said.

Patrons placed money in donation cups in front of each ergometer.

Each time someone gave a dollar, the rower gave 10 powerful strokes.

In previous years, the ergometers were set up near the Rock, but being indoors at Norris University Center “allowed more people to hang out,” Wilson said.

“A lot of people skip classes on Fridays, and with the weather having been so bad, it seemed better to hold it inside,” she said.

This year’s Ergathon was especially important in light of a trailer accident last March that caused the team to lose all their boats.

New boats were covered by insurance, but Wilson said the team still has many expenses.

“We have an annual budget of $110,000, so $400 is just a drop in the bucket,” he said. “A lot of this is to raise awareness about the crew team.”

McCormick junior Ken Wade, a team member, said he rowed for about 80 minutes Friday.

“(The Ergathon) gets a lot of awareness for the team. Some people get more excited about it than others,” Wade said.

He also gave lessons on the ergometer, which he said is often used improperly.

Wilson said she hoped the Ergathon showed some people what rowing is all about.

“A lot of our friends know what rowing is, but they don’t see what we do all winter,” Wilson said. “At the Ergathon they can come out and see that.”

Reach Elise Foley at [email protected]