Our rowing team did exceptionally well at Elk Lake this weekend, taking first in Junior Girls doubles and Junior Novice Boys quad, as well as second and third in many other categories. The two-day regatta featured over 20 events and included two single competitions for the first time in high-school rowing. SMUS duplicated the success they had last year at the event, which involves 35 schools from Lower Vancouver Island.
“Seventy-five per cent of our team is completely new to the sport and for them to do what they’ve been doing is incredible,” says Susanne Walker-Curry, the head coach. This weekend, Grade 7 and 8 rowers competed against students up to three years older than them and were the only middle school competitors to make it to the finals.
One of the distinctive things about the rowing team is that while it encompasses six grades, it’s essentially one team. “We train altogether,” says Walker-Curry, adding that the rowers are only separated when it comes time to compete. With six coaches and 58 members – more rowers than ever before – the rowing team is the largest and most diverse team at SMUS.
Walker-Curry enjoys the camaraderie of the team, who help each other bring in boats and support each other. “You can have your Grade 12 rower giving a high-five to a little Grade 7 rower,” she says. “It’s like a tradition being passed on.”
Since rowing began, it has been coached by former staff member and Olympian Jennifer Walinga, who now teaches at Royal Roads University, where the rowers train. Mrs. Walker-Curry was one of the supporting coaches for the team last year, before going off to be the coach of the BC Women’s Rowing Team and one of the coaches for Canada’s Junior National team.
“We have singers on our team, we have athletes that play several sports and an instrument,” says Mrs. Walker-Curry. “They do so many things.” Next weekend, the rowing team will head into the city championships for the last leg of their season. In May, some of the rowers will get an opportunity to compete in the national championships in St. Catharines, Ontario.