.Founded in 1897, San Diego State University is a public institution of higher education that is one of the largest universities in the state of California with nearly 30,000 students. It offers 200 different academic degree choices, and more than 300 education abroad programs in 52 different countries. With award-winning professors, premier research facilities, and a sunny location at the gateway to Latin America and the Pacific Rim – in “America’s Finest City” of San Diego – SDSU gives students the tools to expand their knowledge and their potential. In recent years, the reputation of the University in the academic world has skyrocketed … and several of its programs – in particular the Business School – are now known to be up on top of the country’s list of “the best anywhere”
Above: The external view of Viejas Arena, home of SDSU’s Men’s and Women’s basketball teams; both are perennial powerhouses, earning the right to playing in “March Madness” in most recent seasons.
In addition, several hundred million dollars have been spent in recent years on new facilities. Part of the construction included the building of the Viejas Arena, right in front of the Aztec Recreation Center (the “ARC”), in the midst of our athletic facilities. Thousands of Aztec students pack into the Arena for every home game, with the thunderous chant of “We Believe That We Will Win” shaking the rafters during warm-ups. There is also a soon-to-be-opened, $100,000,000.00+ Student Center in the middle of campus. The wonderful thing about all of this new construction is how well the architecture has been blended in with the traditional, mission style of SDSU. Brown, earthen colored adobe walls and red clay roof tiles adorn the facades of the new as well as the old, making SDSU’s campus not only appropriate for its American Southwestern locale, but one of the most attractive anywhere in the world.
Up on Montezuma Mesa, mission-style buildings are spread over 300 acres of lushly landscaped grounds intercut with hills and canyons. You can walk end-to-end in less that a half an hour. We are situated to the northeast of downtown San Diego, just off Interstate 8 and conveniently located along the San Diego Trolley Green Line – which, among other destinations, takes students from the campus area directly to Qualcomm Stadium where the Aztecs (not to mention the San Diego Chargers) play football.
Above: The “Madhouse on the Mesa” = Viejas Arena from the inside, during a typical Aztec basketball game.
To get a feel for the campus, go to; www. sdsu.edu/virtualtour, to view the architecture and flora. Or, you can check things out on Google Street View or, better yet, schedule a campus tour at www. sdsu.edu/campustour. [Of course, our coaching staff will show you the entirety of the University, our training facilities, and the city of San Diego itself if you schedule a recruitment tour. ]
Our crews practice rowing at the H. Del Beekley Rowing Center, which is a part of the Mission Bay Aquatic Center. This wonderful waterfront facility is a 10 mile drive from campus down on the world famous vacation playground, Mission Bay. This building houses classes and youth-oriented programs involving wakeboarding, sailing, surfing, stand up paddling, waterskiing, kayaking, windsurfing, and, of course, rowing. Over 15,000 kids and adults participate in its programs yearly.
Above: The Mission Bay Aquatic Center – the largest water sports teaching facility in the entire world – North Side
Our practices are sometimes in the early morning hours – in order to be done before classes begin for the day – and sometimes in the afternoon, after classes have ended. In addition, our Aztec rowers spend some of their time lifting weights on campus at the huge, state-of- the-art ARC – in order to increase their boat moving power. At other times, they “row on the land” on ergometers – rowing machines that help to develop skill and an aerobic base, and measure the rowers’ fitness – in our large Ergometer Room.
The SDSU Men’s Crew is a club team. This colors our operations in several ways – all of them good. Even though we have a professional coaching staff, some of the team’s policy is set by the rowers themselves. This allows student-athletes to participate in a way that informs in a direct manner the lessons that they learn while rowing. Then too, it allows us to emphasize both lightweight and heavyweight racing if we so choose (which we do). None of the athletic departmentally supported teams in the West – none of them – are “allowed” by Athletic Directors to prioritize their lightweight men’s teams. Because we have decided to do this over the years, it has opened up the possibility of competing to a much larger group of student-athletes. As a group, our lightweights have been the fastest crew in the West many times over – including just this past season (they won both the Newport Regatta and the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championship in 2013!). Also, as individual oarsmen, this prioritizing has created a “pipeline” of sorts for lightweights that has seen 7 of our men earn positions on U.S. Teams over the years.
But there is more. The lightweight program informs the boat speed of the heavyweights. Our large group of athletes (the current 2013-2014 team numbers over 80 rowers and coxswains) support each other by competing daily both for individual seats in racing boats (the Varsity, the Second Varsity, and so on) and together, as crews. The running speed of lightweight men helps to motivate the heavyweights when we get together for land training. Practices on the water involve fierce, although brotherly, competition each and every day. Year in and year out, having good crews at both levels has allowed us to win team points championships, both in the fall and in the spring. Furthermore, we have even more latitude in terms of determining what we wish to accomplish – what our goals are. If our team decides to go to different regattas, in new places, it may do so. We need not pass such ideas by administrators!
Above: The boathouse on a Saturday morning in the summer – The H. Del Beekley Rowing Center on the South Side of the Aquatic Center.
The competition year involves both fall and spring racing seasons. In the fall, races involve approximately three mile long competitions that last between 13 and 18 minutes. These races begin in October and stretch through November. For novices, fall racing occurs in San Diego and in the Los Angeles Area (the Varsity travels in the fall up to Sacramento for one race). Our fall practicing and racing season then ends several weeks before Final Exams, so that our student-athletes can focus upon academics. In the spring, all races are the Olympic distance of 2,000 meters. These take approximately 6 minutes to complete. Racing might occur in San Diego, Arizona, Oregon, Los Angeles, or the San Francisco Bay Area. The end-of-the year regatta (the Championships for the West Coast) always occurs in Sacramento. Then, in addition – and the icing on the cake to some extent – some of our crews travel to National Championships when their West Coast seasons warrant it.
Below: How warm is it in San Diego? We “beach launch” every day – we do not even own docks!
Boathouse: The H. Del Beekley Rowing Center
Our boathouse – the H. Del Beekley Rowing Center – is named after the beloved coach who started SDSU Crew more than a half century ago and coached the Aztecs through their first “glory years” of the early ’60s. It is located on the world famous vacation paradise “Mission Bay” in northwest San Diego. The Rowing Center is on Santa Clara Point, in the heart of the Pacific Beach/Mission Beach area.
Above: We have enough modern oars and small boats to send out about 20 oarsmen sculling at a time. But a back-up rack of older, wooden oars gives us the ability to send almost twice that number out when we wish to.
The Rowing Center has three boat bays that our Men’s team shares with both the SDSU Women’s Crew and the Mission Bay Rowing Association. We have 8s, 4s, pairs, doubles, quads, and singles in significant numbers. Ergometers too are available at the boathouse. There are showers, lockers, classrooms, and offices available to our crew members and coaches at the Center. Taken together, everything offered at the Aquatic Center and at the Rowing Center presents to our teams the finest, most all-inclusive rowing opportunities available anywhere in the world. One of the key components of the Aztec success story is the fact that we can make “no excuses” due to facilities or equipment; our program involves cutting edge equipment and a world class rowing venue, and there is no reason why we cannot compete with (and defeat) just about any crew anywhere.
Campus Ergometer Room
The rowing Ergometer Room is located on campus on the North side of Peterson Gym, just across the street from the ARC. The room possesses 40 state-of-the-art ergometers for use in developing aerobic capacity as well as for testing the fitness of athletes. Mirrors on the walls and cameras connected to television monitors allow athletes to watch themselves as they row. This allows for hands-on coaching.
The televisions also allow coaches and athletes to view recordings of rowing done by the team on the waters of Mission Bay. They can also view the team’s numerous DVDs about rowing style, weight lifting, erging, cross training, and so forth. In addition, the room includes several stationary bicycles for cross training. The Ergometer Room is shared with the Women’s Team, which is an Athletic Department sponsored program.
The Aztec Recreation Center
The Aztec Recreation Center offers to all SDSU students the sorts of fitness and recreation alternatives that have come to be expected by students on today’s college campus. Two outdoor swimming pools, a bowling alley, tennis courts, a large climbing wall, and numerous multi-purpose gyms dot a complex that embraces 50,000 square feet. All sorts of classes and programs are available to every member of the student body.
Above: One of the Cardio Rooms of the ARC … there are several adjacent Weight Rooms and another Cardio Center
A 7,000 square foot room filled with aerobic/cardiovascular fitness machines allows our rowers to do steady state (or long, slow, distance = LSD) workouts on any number of machines … including stationary bicycles, stair climbers, walking/running machines, ski exercise machines, and, of course, rowing machines. An 8,000 square foot weight room allows for the development of the type of single stroke power necessary to compete at the highest levels. For the individual athlete, lockers, saunas, and showers are available.
Craig Doan, Head Coach
After serving for three years as the Assistant Coach/Boathouse Coordinator, Craig Doan took over the Aztec program as Head Coach in August 2019. While serving as assistant coach, Craig’s SDSU Novice 8+’s were among the nation’s best, receiving rankings in the ACRA Coaches poll in both 2018 & 2019. Those same years saw the Aztec 1st Novice 8+ in the Grand Final of the San Diego Crew Classic, WIRA’s and included wins in the Gruenberg Cup and podium finishes at the Newport Regatta.
Craig joined San Diego State Men’s Crew in 2016 after serving for 5 years as the head coach to the men’s club program at his alma mater, Kansas State University. Prior to his stint as head coach, Craig served three years as the assistant coach focused on recruiting & developing the novice athletes.
Rowing for the Kansas State Rowing Association Junior Crew through high school, Craig served as team captain his senior year. Staying close to home and attending college at Kansas State University, he rowed for the Kansas State Men’s Crew while completing his Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry.
“With a strong understanding of what is expected of Aztec oarsmen, I am excited to build off of an already strong culture and sense of brotherhood within the boathouse and push SDSU Men’s Crew higher into the upper echelon of west coast crews. There is a lot of reason for excitement for the future of SDSU Men’s Rowing.” — Head Coach, Craig Doan