Blair Boys' Crew FAQs
The following questions and answers are intended to share information about Blair crew; the questions presented are the ones raised most often by prospective students who are considering rowing in the spring.
When does the crew season begin and end?
Crew is mainly a spring sport. We have a winter season designed to develop athletes who are trying to compete in the top boats, but our main season begins with our spring trip to Oak Ridge, Tennessee. We end after the Stotesbury Regatta, although select crews may compete in the National Championships.
Is experience necessary?
Most of the students who join Blair crew have little or no experience prior to their first season. One of the best parts about the sport of rowing is the existence of a separate 'novice' category of racing, for those who have never rowed before. While some first year athletes are skilled enough to compete for varsity seats, every first year rower is guaranteed a race against other novice opponents.
What is the general make-up of the team?
The team comprises two groups: novice boys and varsity boys. We have roughly 30 athletes combined in a given year.
Where do you practice?
We have an indoor training room located in the main gymnasium on campus. We use land-based rowing machines and ergometers to teach basic stroke technique and to increase strength and fitness. Our outdoor facility is located on the Paulinskill River, which is about a 15-minute bus ride from campus.
When do we practice?
We practice after classes each day. The team meets at the buses and heads out to the river. Practice runs until dinnertime.
How long are the workouts?
The team works out five days a week for two hours each day. One day each week, we race against opponents in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) and throughout the Northeast. Basically, we expect the team to row six days a week.
Are there any morning workouts?
How many races occur during the season?
Generally, we have seven competitions during the eight-week spring season. If you are part of the novice team, you will race in five to six of these events; as a varsity member, you will race in as many as possible.
What types of championship regattas are possible?
Blair crew attends the Mercer Sprints Regatta and the Mid-Atlantic Championships. In addition, the members of the MAPL hold a championship race near the end of the spring. The Blair crew season culminates at the Stotesbury Regatta, where we race against the very best crews from all over the United States and Canada. The top finishers at this regatta have the possibility of continuing at the U.S. Rowing Nationals in June.
It’s a total experience that immerses you. Here are just a few more reasons:
Rowers are the toughest, most determined athletes you will meet!
- Rowing is for EVERYONE. Your height and size don't matter. If you are interested in us, we are interested in you.
- It does not matter if you have never played sports before or have never heard of rowing; we will teach you everything you need to know.
- Rowing works all muscle groups and burns more calories than any other sport or exercise. It is a sport that demands endurance, strength and skill. It requires consummate teamwork and mental toughness.
- Many universities offer scholarships for crew. Crew is a growing sport on college campuses. Participating in crew can benefit you as you navigate the college admission process.
- Blair crew has FUN. We feel that by rowing, you become not just a better athlete, but a better student and person as well.
- The team experience forms very close friendships and helps everyone grow dramatically as people. You learn a sense of responsibility toward your boat mates and team, and this transfers to all aspects of life.
Meet Coach Forteith
A highly experienced independent-school teacher, coach and administrator, Will Forteith joined the Blair faculty in 2017 as a history teacher and the director of rowing programs and head boys’ rowing coach. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University (2000), where double-majored in English and history and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa; a master’s degree in English from the Middlebury College Bread Loaf School of English (2004); and a master’s degree in education in private school leadership from Columbia University Teachers College Klingenstein Center (2016). During his 17-year career in education, Will has taught and coached students from 5th through 12th grades at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Connecticut; Parish Episcopal School and his alma mater, St. Mark’s School of Texas, in Dallas; and The Walker School in Marietta, Georgia. His administrative experience includes serving as assistant head of middle school at St. Mark’s and middle school principal at The Walker School.
Will brings 25 years of rowing experience to Blair. He began rowing as a ninth-grader at St. Mark’s, captaining the team as a junior and senior, and continued as a four-year member of Cornell’s men’s lightweight crew. He has coached crew at Choate, St. Mark’s, the Atlanta Junior Rowing Association and Atlanta Rowing Club, and he is the founding director of RowAmerica Peachtree in Georgia. In addition, Will travels every summer to the Craftsbury Sculling Center in Vermont, where, since 2005, he has coached master, junior and novice rowers. Will teaches ninth- and tenth-grade history at Blair and serves as co-housemaster of Freeman Hall. He and his wife, Heather Zrubek, have a 7-year-old daughter, Elise
Meet Coach O'Neill
Spanish 2 teacher and assistant boys’ crew coach Rebecca O'Neill earned a bachelor’s degree in Latin American studies with a focus on migration and a minor in Spanish at Bates College (2015). Her Spanish language fluency stems from many years of language study, including at Middlebury Monterey Language Institute, and having lived in Costa Rica for over a year. She gained teaching experience prior to joining Blair's faculty in 2016 as an AmeriCorps national service member, during which time she taught intensive reading and writing classes to Spanish-speaking migrant students and English-language learners at Calabasas Elementary School in California. Rebecca captained the Bates women’s rowing team, rowing in the eight that won the Head of the Charles in 2014 and the varsity eight that won the NCAA Division III championship in 2015. In summer 2017, she coached for a third year at the Junior National Men’s Rowing Development Camp, where she trained future national team rowers. Rebecca is a full-time member of the language faculty and the recipient of the 2016-2017 Hardwick Teaching Fellowship. This award is given annually to a promising young, new teacher to support and encourage a lifelong teaching career. Rebecca was co-chaperone of the marine science trip to the Cayman Islands during winter long weekend 2017; she serves dorm duty in Lakeside Hall and lives on Flight Deck.
Meet Coach Sheppard
A teacher of Latin 1, 2 and 4 at Blair since joining the faculty in 2017, Chris Sheppard holds a bachelor’s degree in classics from the University of Puget Sound (2008) and a master's degree in Greek and Latin languages and literature from the University of Oxford, where he was a member of Merton College (2010). He gained classroom experience as a teacher of ancient Greek to first-year Oxford undergraduates and a substitute Latin teacher at Lakeside School in Seattle, and has also worked as an independent tutor and as an admission counselor and assistant director of admission at the University of Puget Sound. During his undergraduate days, Chris was a coxswain for the men’s varsity rowing team and led the first-ever boat in Puget Sound’s history to compete at the IRA National Championship Regatta. He coaches rowing and oversees recreational skiing at Blair, and he resides and serves dorm duty in Mason Hall.
|4/10||Manny Flick Regatta||Away||6th Place|
|4/16-4/17||Mercer Sprints||Away||9th Place|
|5/7-5/8||Mid-Atlantic Championships||Away||2nd Place|
|5/14||MAPLs @ Mercer Lake||Away||3:00 pm||3rd Place|
|5/19-5/21||Stotesbury Regatta||Away||5th Place|
|6/9-6/11||Youth Nationals||Away||20th Place|
|4/12||Manny Flick Regatta||Away||9:30 am|
|5/2||MAPLs||Away||5:00 pm||G: 2nd Place|