For three days – a total of 51.5 hours on the two machines – the 23 boys and two girls of the University of Rhode Island’s Men’s Rowing Team rowed in the Memorial Union lobby for 1.44 million meters (900 miles).
All 25 members took turns rowing for the fundraiser, with their donation jar collecting $603 from passersby.
“I think it was a pretty good team builder,” said Cody McMillian, the captain and fundraising coordinator for the team. “It was a lot of hard work on the guys, so it definitely burned them out a little bit, but I think once we were done the overall morale went way up because it was a pretty big accomplishment.”
Additionally, the rowing team’s GoFundmMe.com account, raised $4,000 for the team in one month. The account was named for Gainesville, Georgia, the location of their national championships.
The team has only been able to use the same rowing machines that they used in the Memorial Union to practice while their usual practice location, Narrow River, remains frozen. To prepare for the start of their season, and hopefully help them reach nationals, the team paid out of their own pockets to travel to South Carolina. They will be using the money raised through their fundraisers for future expenses, such as reducing the cost of plane tickets and hotels for nationals, since none of the club teams are given financial support from the university.
“We probably won’t have the time [for more large fundraisers], especially since it’s our racing season now,” said McMillian. “But we might do some other minor fundraisers here and there.”
“Last year we had to move down river, because it was a little frozen,” said Peter Collins, the president and public relations coordinator for the team. “But then we were eventually able to move back, and this year we had to relocate altogether… And this is the first year we were forced to move away. But it was a really successful trip, [and] now our coach is looking at bringing us there in the future spring breaks as well.”
While in South Carolina the team rowed twice a day everyday, with another workout in between each session. After three forms of practice a day for an entire week in South Carolina, the team feels much better prepared to take on their first race.
“The team is looking pretty good for this upcoming weekend, but we’ll get a better feel for everything after race one, to kind of see where we are,” said McMillian.
The team’s first race will be held in New Jersey, one of the larger races that the URI team competes in, with approximately 20 to 30 schools expected to compete.