While not one of the bigger clubs on campus, the U of A Rowing Club offers students a supportive learning environment and competitive opportunities.
The Rowing Club is a student group at the University of Alberta associated with Club Sports in the Faculty of Kinesiology, Sports, and Recreation. Its mission is to introduce students to the sport of rowing and offers opportunities for people of all skill levels.
The Rowing Club at the U of A sprang from a related organization, the Edmonton Rowing Club, in 1981, when U of A rowers decided to form a club specifically for students.
Lena Sobze, president of the U of A Rowing Club, believes university is a prime time to learn how to row because rowing requires a level of muscle mass that people don’t have when they’re younger.
“Rowing is one of those sports that is better to start later,” Sobze said. “We want to introduce people to the sport of rowing and then get them to learn how to row efficiently enough to where they can potentially also start competing in races… and just enjoy what [they’re] doing.”
Sobze has been rowing for over a year and has competed in several events, such as the Alberta Indoor Rowing Championships and the RBC Training Ground Regional Finals. Sobze says she joined the club in order to be involved in competitive sports and to meet new people.
“I really wanted to be in some sort of team sport that was competitive: nothing I had to commit to, but [also a sport where] I would be able to meet people and stay fit during my first year,” Sobze said. “I went to Clubs Fair and I tried a couple sports and rowing was one where I [thought] this can be something I can do competitively and meet a bunch of people.”
The club is open only to U of A students and has practice rowing sessions every weekday from 5:30-7:30pm and 9:00am on Saturdays. While there’a no formal time commitment, it’s advised that members practice as much as they can to improve.
New members can learn how to row with students at the same skill level. Once students feel confident enough, they can start to compete in various competitions at both the provincial and national level.
“For students, first you start by [learning] how to row with people that are at your level, so right off the gate, nobody is ahead of you. You’re all the same,” Sobze said. “From there we have competitions, so sometimes we go to Victoria for competitions, sometimes it’s just Calgary or Red Deer. There is a lot of travelling involved with rowing depending on if you want to compete.”
Sobze explained that in addition to lessons and competitions, the Rowing Club also organizes social events, such as camping trips, hockey games, and going out for dinner together.
“I love rowing, the sport is amazing, the team is awesome,” Sobze said. “You don’t have to commit to it all the way. If you want to, you can, but it’s a sport for anybody. You don’t have to be athletic if you want to start, you can become athletic through trying rowing.”