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Finding a Way to Run a Successful College Club Rowing Program

by USRowing Video by Ed Moran, ed@usrowing.org | Jan 19, 2016
There are big differences between what a club college rowing program can do compared to a university where crew is a varsity sport, one that has academic support, scholarships and a school-funded equipment and travel budget. At schools like the University of Michigan, those elements of student-athlete life are missing, and having a sustainable operating budget depends on a combination of alumni support, donations and student fundraising.
There are big differences between what a club college rowing program can do compared to a university where crew is a varsity sport, one that has academic support, scholarships and a school-funded equipment and travel budget.

At schools like the University of Michigan, those elements of student-athlete life are missing, and having a sustainable operating budget depends on a combination of alumni support, donations and student fundraising.

But there are enough things a good coach, supported by a good alumni organization, an understanding administration and dedicated athletes, can do to overcome those obstacles. Michigan head coach Gregg Hartsuff has been doing these things since 1994.

Under Hartsuff, Michigan won a third-consecutive national title at the 2015 ACRA Championships with the crew’s highest overall win percentage (.9643) and the highest victory percentage versus varsity opponents since 1994.

“Every place has its struggles and challenges,” Hartsuff said during an interview at the 2015 USRowing Annual Convention, where he was presented with the 2015 USRowing Man of the Year Award.

“Some places have things that we don’t have, and we have things that other places don’t have. I guess we have maybe a few more hurdles than your average program in college. But I think some of the stuff that we have to go through and do to make it work for us can be a strength for what we’re doing.

“And for all those out there who are also sharing the struggle, there are probably more club athletes in the U.S. than varsity, but I’ve been there, and I know what it takes to really scrape and have a lack of resources. Acquiring what it takes is a long process that requires a lot of sacrifice. I would just, to anybody that’s in that situation, say, keeping fighting the good fight. You can have a really good program and a good winning tradition that you can be proud of.”

Listen to Hartsuff talk about what it takes to run a successful club program.
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