In its second performance at the Greenhead Sprints in Brigantine, the Dennis Township indoor rowing team tripled in size and competed in two heats instead of one. Twenty-five rowers, ranging from 6th to 8th grade, competed in a 2000 meter indoor race culminating in a medals ceremony for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places for both boys and girls.
Coach and health teacher Alex Petrella, recently coach for the Ocean City girls crew team, enjoys the sport and is excited to bring it to his students at Dennis Township School District. "This is a lifelong sport that is good for building muscle and endurance without being hard on your knees or other joints," he explains. He believes rowing could be a great sport for students who are not attracted to typical school sports like football or field hockey.
Gym teacher and coach Lauren Lillie also has experience in coaching crew and sees value in developing the sport early instead of waiting for high school. "Crew is growing as a sport and more and more schools are developing their own rowing programs," Lillie states. She goes on to explain that there are numerous college scholarship opportunities for students who row competitively in high school, especially for women, and she thinks it is a good idea to start learning the sport in middle school.
Former Dennis Township Principal Dr. Joe LaRosa, Jr., attended the race and rowed with the students in the first heat. As a lifeguard and rowing aficionado, LaRosa was a major proponent of participating in the Greenhead Sprints in 2016 and hopes the school will continue with the sport. "I really wanted to be here to encourage the kids and show them that you can row at any age and still compete," LaRosa says. "There are some students here with a lot of potential who have been out on crew boats in summer camps and I would love to see them pursue this in the future."
Petrella and Lillie hope to start an indoor rowing club for students interested in the sport so they can compete in the Greenhead Sprints next year as well as other indoor rowing competitions.