On May 23rd, the Varsity boat for San Diego State University packed up in a Prius and a truck and started a grand cross-country adventure to the American Collegiate Rowing Association National Championship in Gainesville, GA. Let me back up a little bit…. This year the team has faced some financial challenges and was considering not going to ACRA because the flight costs were just not something the team could front. With the athletes looking at a potential $1000 out of pocket each to compete, ACRA was looking like a no go. After calling a meeting to break this news, the athletes decided that they wanted to go for the seniors in the boat and they would make the drive to help with costs. Now, we already knew this team was close but this display of selflessness and dedication was the icing on the cake for an amazing season. In order to help with costs, Coach Julia made sure to fill the trailer with boats and equipment for WSU, UC Irvine and UCLA and hauled them across the country with 4 of the 9 athletes in the truck with her. The remaining 5 athletes crammed into a Prius, yes, you heard that right and with no incident and everyone still on speaking terms, the entire convoy made the 2,300 mile trip in three days. Upon the boats arrival, they were welcomed with positive attention from competitors even used as an example during a lecture about team dedication to other squads. Needless to say, the group was excited to have arrived and eager to get on the course.
One of the reasons it was such an important year to be competing at ACRA is that the Men’s V8 event was the largest field by far it has ever been. With 38 entries, the V8 had to go to time trials, a first for the regatta. A time trial was exactly what the SDSU boat needed to stretch their legs and get a full race down the course. After the time trial, they went to their heat to determine what final they would go to. With such a large field, the finals went from A to E! In the heat, they were ecstatic because we got to race against Western Washington University who had taken the SDSU V8 by less than a second twice this season, so the boat had some great motivation and they rocked it! Not only did our Aztecs finally finish on the right side of the barn burner race and take the spot in the C final, but when they came off the water, the group consensus was that that race made the drive worth it %100. The final was another great race with a tight field and the Aztecs coming in 5th, matching their overall ranking of 21st/38.
This year showed everyone that the field is getting much faster and much larger which is wonderful for the sport. The Aztecs were able to stay relevant with getting into the coveted C final as well as being noticed for their dedication and heart for making the long trip. The drive for the athletes will most likely be a one time thing now that the team is back in good standings and has found a couple reliable fundraisers. Though the team will no longer do the drive, the equipment hauling was a very helpful cost reducer for the trip and will stay as an end of year fundraiser. Coach Julia already has interest for next year for renting spots and with the high demand, it seems like a no brainer. The team of course could not do any of this without the support we have seen from friends, family and alumni and we want to take a moment to especially thank those close with the V8, the support and trust was real and made the bond even stronger. Thank you big time!
The team is now on Summer break and are training on their own time. The athletes and the coaches are looking forward to next Fall and how we can continue our trend of growth and success on and off the water.