Northampton Community Rowing youth program finds success this fall

  • The Northampton Community Rowing Boys Novice Junior 4+ boat of John Cleary, from left, Forrest Riddington, Max McQuade, Charlie Horton and Thomas Michaelson stand with novice coach Linda Hannum after placing first at the Head of the Riverfront in Hartford, Connecticut, on Oct. 6. SUBMITTED PHOTO

For the Gazette
Published: 10/24/2019 5:59:35 PM

Northampton Community Rowing has turned the tide and found a new wave of excitement during a successful fall season.

The youth program is trending upward under the guidance of director Jeff Collett, varsity coach Brittany Superba and novice coach Linda Hannum.

The season opened with the Paper City Regatta in Holyoke on Sept. 22.

Northampton won three races, led by a top-three sweep in the Girls Youth 4+ race. The Girls Youth 8+ and the Boys Youth 4+ also finished first. Northampton placed third in the Girls Youth 2+.

One week later, Northampton placed first in the Girls Junior 4+ and second in the Girls Junior 8+ at the Head of the Merrimack in Methuen.

Hamp’s Boys Novice Junior 4+ finished first, while the Girls Novice Junior 4+ was fourth at the Head of the Riverfront in Hartford, Connecticut, on Oct. 6. At the same regatta, the Girls Junior 8+ finished 13th in a field of 22 boats.

Northampton recently had two top five boats at the New England Junior and High School Championships, Oct. 13 on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester.

The Girls Novice 4+ placed third, while the Boys Novice 4+ was fourth. The Girls Varsity 8+ finished 12th out of 20 boats.

The success has been a turnaround from previous years when the club struggled to get good results in these regattas.

“The results have been very promising,” Collett said. “I know that in the past, just from talking with the athletes and the coaches on the staff that were here before, that we haven’t always been performing very well. ... To go out in the last two races and win pretty dominantly in the events that we had done pretty poorly in the last couple of years was a nice turnaround.”

Collett said that there has been a lot of instability around Northampton Community Rowing and he wanted to change that.

“I think our athletes have done a great job at adapting,” Collett said. “I think we’ve had five directors in the last five years so just trying to create some stability with the program and with the staff and athletes because we’ve ramped up the workload quite a bit this year in the fall.”

Collett spent six years coaching a nationally ranked men’s rowing program at UC San Diego.

“They were very, very dedicated to the sport but almost to the point where they didn’t seem to love it as much as you would think they would,” Collett said. “When I came here, while almost everyone was relatively new to the sport and haven’t been exposed to high-level rowing, everyone had this really genuine enthusiasm and excitement for the club. They all have this mentality of it’s their club and they have to take care of it.”

There are 21 members of the varsity team and they represent eight schools:

Brooke Kellogg, Charlie Horton, Charlotte Bourne, Ella Lepine, Fina Day, Finn Mead, Julia Albro-Fisher, Marion Eriksen, Meghan Costin-Shaw and Zoe Bunk Sizer of Northampton High School; Caitlin Reardon, Erin Reynolds, Paige Lech and Zoe Paradis-Stern of Hampshire Regional; Emma Becker and Ernie Kim of Greenfield Community College; Greta Cooper of Smith Academy; Greta Stekl of Amherst Regional; John Cleary of Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion School; Lucia Rea of Easthampton High School; and Sam Boutilier of The Hartsbrook School.

Collett wants to get more involved in the sport.

“Our outreach I don’t think is very good right now,” Collett said. “I don’t really know what kind of relationships we’ve had with the high school programs in the past. Another thing I want to do is really try to reach out to them and show them that we’re a place for their student-athletes to come and get a good physical education and be successful at the athletic level in high school and move them on to college.”

The team has one race remaining in the fall ― Sunday at the Head of the Fish in Saratoga Springs, New York.

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