On Saturday, September 22, the Phoenix Rowing Club shoved off from New Bedford State Pier for their first harbor cruise fundraiser. The regional rowing team has been established since April of 2012 and participated in a number of regattas this summer.
“They won the top trophies in Rochester this year,” said Janice Foley, vice chairman of the Phoenix Crew Board. “It’s open to anyone from the surrounding towns.”
The team includes children and adults from the Tri-Town, as well as Dartmouth, Westport, and New Bedford.
“You don’t have to know how to row to join. It’s a non-cut program,” said Foley.
The club, which is still looking to fill positions, recently hired Cape Cod native and New Bedford resident Stefan Seitler as an assistant coach. He comes to the team with five years experience, which includes rowing for Boston University in Cambridge.
“It’s really great. Everybody is very supportive. The rowers are really quick learners. It’s a really nice situation we have here,” Seitler said.
The program has already offered opportunities to many of the youth who have participated. Andrew Pereira of New Bedford started rowing about two years ago with a team out of his home town. He currently attends Johnson and Wales and rows on their crew team and is a captain of the Phoenix team.
“I love the relationships you build with everybody. Waking up early, sometimes seeing your team more than your own family. It’s a real bonding experience,” he said.
“It’s really nice. It’s a great team sport. Everybody has to be on the same page for you to win. It really teaches you how to work together,” said Dartmouth High School senior Rachel Schwarts, another Phoenix captain.
“You can’t not succeed with this group of kids and parents,” said head coach Carolyn McGonagle. “It’s evolved into this perfect little club. We have tons of support from the community.
That community turned out by the dozens for the harbor cruise. The evening, which offered a locally-provided buffet, also featured an auction as the centerpiece of the fundraiser. Businesses from all over the South Coast donated items from gift certificates to a tennis package. By the end of the night, the auction had raised about $2,000, which will go to help pay for some of the boats the club recently acquired.
“We’ve purchased three 8’s, we have a four and a single,” Foley said.
Already a team of about 25, the Phoenix crew is set to participate in four more regattas coming up in the fall. For more information, visit www.phoenixcrewclub.webs.com.
By Eric Tripoli