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Crew team blends individualism with team ethic

The Portland State crew team gives students a unique opportunity to participate in a team sport while simultaneously providing room for individual accomplishment.

Crew is the club name for the sport of rowing, which is funded in part by the Student Fees Committee and quarterly dues. Because crew is a club and not an intercollegiate sport, its membership is open to all students, regardless of experience or athletic ability. With the combination of individual ethic and team camaraderie, crew can give students an invaluable experience at PSU.

Student Mary Thomason started the crew team at Portland State in 1997. Currently, the team is coached by Bryan Dean and has more than 50 active members.

An athletic background is a plus on a club team that has only 11 members with previous experience. Crew is a year-round sport. Spring is the season with the primary competitions, and there are three to four meets on average every term. PSU competes in meets, called regattas, with schools such as the University of Portland, Washington State University, the University of Oregon and Willamette University.

Races are gender-specific with either four or eight people to a boat and a coxswain who steers the boat and motivates the team. The distance of the races vary from 2,000 meters in the spring to 5,000 and 7,000 meters in the fall.

Mandatory practices begin at 5:45 a.m. and continue until 7:45 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Optional practices are on Tuesday and Thursday.

Varsity members have a nine month commitment, with regular attendance a must. During the balmy months of winter, the athletic center provides indoor rowing machines that allow the team to stay in shape while staying out the rain.

Crew is a unique team sport because it relies heavily on individual effort, yet success is only achieved when everyone gives their all. The success of the team depends on the total effort of the boat during the race. It is much like bobsledding, in which the effort of the whole team is needed all the time.

“Crew is personally challenging and yet at the same time very team-oriented,” Andrea Nevill, the president of the team and a crewmember, said.

For her, the sport is “mentally and physically tough, which helps tremendously with school and life.”

In addition to competitions, the crew team raises money for charities such as Row for the Cure and other events that give back to the community and school. Currently, the team is applying for membership to the U.S. Rowing Association, which provides an opportunity for national competitions and a chance to compete in prestigious national invitationals against schools like Harvard and Yale.

For more information about joining the team, go to the Web site at