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September 25, 1995 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-09-25

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The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Monday, September 25, 1995 - 3%

Rollicking Crew
Women work hard to elevate their sport to varsity status

Darren To Be Different
IM officials are
just tying to
make a buck, so
stop complaining
Y ou make the call:
Take an intramural sports
referee. Consider his
inexperience, his apparent igno-
rance of the rules and his No. I
reason for officiating - to make a
buck. Is he a bonafide referee in
training, or is he just another hack
destined to screw your soccer team
out of the B-league championship
The truth is, most lie somewhere
in the middle. While there are a few
who could make officiating their
career (as well as a few who should
end their reffing careers now), most
IM referees are students who have
played sports at some level but
never officiated.
These students are referees now
because they need the money. Of
course, some aren't cut out for
officiating, but since the Intramural
Sports Program is always short on
officials, it's in no position to be
When you add up all of those
factors, you get a referee who, for
the most part, is competent. But on
occasion, he will blow your shot at
a 3-on-3 title with one blast of his
whistle ... however unintentionally.
And if you're like most intramu-
ral athletes, you'll let him know
about it.
"Intramural (sports) participants
are always going to argue about
officiating," says Robert Fox,
director of intramural sports.
Fox acts like a guy who's heard
plenty such arguments before. In
support of his point, he hands me a
fact sheet describing the lowly lot
of umpires: In one game, they must
call 288 balls and strikes, call 64
players "safe" or "out," get hit by a
pitched or batted ball once - and
not make one mistake.
Now, that's true of all umpires
and referees, whether they're here
or on the professional level. The
difference is intramural referees are
new to the officiating game.
"There has to be some starting
point (for officials)," Fox says.
"There is no starting point other
than intramurals."
So, the referee-to-be begins life at
the Intramural Sports Building. But
before he gets his inexperienced
mouth on a whistle, he must attend
an officiating clinic. (These clinics
are only held for sports like flag
football and ice hockey, where
referees make judgment calls. No
clinics exist for tennis, golf and
other sports in which the officials
aren't involved.)
Over a four- to five-day period,
officials practice making calls in
game situations, go over rules and
perhaps watch a film. They also
take three exams - the first one
(taken on the first day) judges what
they know coming in, while the next
two evaluate how much the officials
have learned.
The clinics are no joke. The
Michigan High School Athletics
Association doesn't require that its
officials attend a four- to five-day
seminar. However, of all the exams

would-be referees take, there is no
"weeder" test - one that eliminates
the bums that don't belong.
Just about anyone who wants to
be an intramural referee can make
that dream come true simply
because there aren't enough
officials. That's a new problem for
Rob Rademacher, an assistant
director of intramural sports who
attended North Carolina.
"We didn't have as big a problem
getting officials," Rademacher says.
He uses flag football as an example.
"Down there, we had no problem
getting four officials per game.
We're lucky if we get one to two
Fox, who worked for 14 years at
Wisconsin and East Carolina before
soending the past 11 here, notices

By Nicholas J. Cotsonika
Daily Sports Writer
his can't be fun. Sixty-five
athletes jam themselves into
flimsy little boats - straining
and sweating through their daily
ritual of pain - while the rest of the
world sleeps.
At six every morning, the women
push themselves up the icy Huron
River as fatigue burns their bodies,
punishing them for stroking the water
1,320 times an hour.
Crew is tiring, demanding and
obscure. Hardly any kid grows up
dreaming of rowing glory. There
aren't crowds of 100,000 for any
regatta, and even the most avid sports
fans can't tell a coxswain from an
This can't be fun.
But these people pay to do it.
"(Crew) is everything I love in
athletics all combined into one," says
junior Kate McKenzie. "The pain,
pressure and competitiveness are all
there. And the teamwork, that's the
best part."
It is this synergy, this blending of
wills that makes a boat move, crew
members speak of most. "When you
get everybody in tune, it's the most
incredible feeling," McKenzie says.
"You wish nothing would interrupt it
for the rest of your life."
Hard work has its rewards, and
crew teams take that creed seriously.
It is the nature of the sport. So at
Michigan, after toiling through 20
years of club status, women's crew
will finally become a varsity sport
next year.
Until the fall of 1996 however,
transition and preparation will mark
the program. The Athletic Depart-
ment has hired Mark Rothstein as
head coach, but he doesn't even have
his own office yet. No new boathouse
will be built anytime soon. And the
rowers will still pay dues.
They have no complaints, however.
"I think everybody's just happy
that it's going to happen," Rothstein
says. "A lot of people have done a lot
for this."
Some would argue Nike and gender
equity did the most. When Michigan
secured its $7 million contract with
the shoe company last spring, money
was available to sanction another
women's sport.
Criticism had been pouring in for
some time about the deficient number
of women's athletic scholarships and
the lack of female athletes. One sport
was needed that could help rectify
these problems. So when the Board in
Control of Intercollegiate Athletics

narrowed its options to crew, water
polo, lacrosse and synchronized
swimming, the rowers won out.
"Gender equity is a tough issue at a
school like Michigan because of
football," Rothstein says. "Crew
works out nicely because of the
numbers. We will have 65 women on
the team and, right now, we have 85
(crew) is
everything I love
in aothletiecs
- Kate McKenzie
Michigan rower
freshmen trying out."
In addition, Rothstein says crew is
more attractive because it is growing
quickly and is the oldest intercolle-
giate sport.
The first athletic event between two
colleges was a boat race between
Harvard and Yale on the Charles
River in 1852. Since that time, crew
has expanded exponentially. There
are currently 170 collegiate teams in
the United States.
Ten of the 11 Big Ten schools have
some sort of rowing program, and
several are considering adding varsity
teams. Ohio State, Iowa and Wiscon-
sin are already competing on that

level. Michigan State, Purdue,
Minnesota and Northwestern may
join the varsity ranks soon.
There is also some interest among
youth. A long-time staple sport in the
East, crew is slowly spreading into
the Midwest. For example, Ann
Arbor Huron High School has a
varsity team and Ann Arbor Pioneer
is looking to add one.
"There are a lot of kids who are
starting to get into it," Rothstein says.
"To them, it's kind of a cross between
swimming and track. But it's
different in that it stresses teamwork,
which the schools like."
As far the men's club is concerned,
Rothstein says it isn't uncommon for
them to be left out.
Twelve schools across the country
have elevated women's programs to
varsity status in the past two years -
Washington State, Iowa, Ohio State,
Massachusetts and Virginia most
notably - while leaving the men on
the dock.
But junior Tina Stutzman says it
will ultimately help everyone. "I have
a lot of friends on the men's team and
they make jokes about it a lot," she
says. "I would be jealous if I were in
their shoes, but they understand."
One thing Rothstein reminds
skeptics, however, is that the women
have a right to wear the block 'M.'
They were very successful without
support from the University, he says,
and becoming a varsity sport was no
Hard work has its rewards, and the

program has pulled its ov
With a miniscule budg
has found itself sleeping
floors at away events an
for supplies, making fun
important. Just this pastN
"Rent-a-Rower" promot
athletes doing odd jobs a
little more than $10 an h
1996 women's,
*First at the Dad Vail, o
nation's premier regatta
* First at the inaugural B
Women's Crew Champio
Indianapolis, Ind.
* The varsity eight defea
of a possible 54 crews in
races. The JV beat 29 of
freshmen 56 of 60.
Funding from the Athl
ment will ease this burde
eventually giving the wo
equipment , travel allotm
in-state scholarships -
hard for just greenbackst
them more successful.
In 1995, the Wolverin
boat beat 52 out of a pos
crews in regular races. T
varsity and novice boats
triumphant, as the JV to
of 30 and the freshmen 5
Later in the year, Mic
boat defeated over 100 t
many of whom were var
nation's premier race, th

As a reward for their victory, the
varsity eight were flown to England.
to compete in the prestigious Henley
Regatta in June.
Michigan also won the inaugural
Big Ten Championship and placed
ninth at the national championships,
losing to title-winner Princeton as
well as established schools like
Brown and Wisconsin.
For the Wolverines to challenge
such powers proves they are ready to
compete. "We've shown we're an
incredible program," McKenzie adds.
"We've done it all without the
University's help, so just think of
what we can do when we get it."
The team will remain unique,
however, even when it becomes
varsity. Although the resources that
come with such status will allow
Rothstein to recruit, for the next few
years, Michigan will get most of its
rowers straight from the student body
- as it always has.
That is one reason why the team
boasted a 3.52 grade-point-average
IKE FITZHUGH/Daily last winter term. The athletes who
wn weight - come out are serious about academics.
and, as many have participated in
get, the team high school sports like track or
on church swimming, know what needs to be
d scrounging accomplished.
draising "Crew requires you to be so
weekend, the disciplined and devoted," says
ion had sophomore Sarah Fritz. "What's the F
nd chores for sense of being there if you don't give
our. it your all?"
Hell begins in autumn, when the
wins team practices and competes in what
Rothstein describes as low rating
ne of the training. A low stroke per minute
Is ratio (18-22) is maintained for an
Big Ten hour at a time for at least two hours
nships in each day. Thep the athletes run and
condition on land.
ated 52 out In the winter, weights and
n aegular orgometer machines dominate the day
so when spring and high rating (36.
strokes per minute) is instituted, the
rowers are ready.
letic Depart- The focus is on the spring, but the"
- season lasts several grueling months.
men This can't be fun, but people like
rents and 20 McKenzie would make you think
but it will be otherwise.
to make The aching joints and abused
muscles produce victories and, more
es' varsity importantly, the simple pleasures that
sible 54 come with a sport athletes come to
he junior love.
were just as "The feeling you get when you
ok care of 29 come out in the morning and mist is
6 of 60. coming off the water is unbeliev-
higan's top able," McKenzie says. "It's unreal.
eams - It's just so peaceful. It's absolutely
sity - at the beautiful."
e Dad Vail. Hard work has its rewards.

I ...-_ ...

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