Crew 101

Crew at Yorktown is actually a two-season sport—winter conditioning and the spring on-water activities.

Winter Conditioning

The winter conditioning program, which is generally four or five days per week, starts in November and runs through late February. These workouts (running, weight training, calisthenics, and erg work) are conducted at Yorktown High School. The coaches will advise athletes of their practice schedule and attendance requirements.

While participation in the winter land-conditioning program is not mandatory, it is strongly recommended for all athletes who are not participating in winter sports or other formal conditioning activities. Students who are participating in an alternate winter sport should advise their coach.

Spring On-Water Program

The spring on-water program runs from late February through the end of May (see regatta schedule here). Practice generally will be held every day after school, plus Saturday, with one day likely to be land training at school and the other days on-water practice on the Potomac.

Bus transportation is provided from Yorktown (and H-B Woodlawn) to Thompson Boat Center and back during the week. The exact bus schedule will be determined prior to the beginning of the spring season. Students and their parents are responsible for organizing their own transportation for Saturday or early AM weekday practices.

It is expected that:

  • Team members will come to every practice.
  • Coaches will be notified at least 24 hours in advance if an absence cannot be avoided.
  • Athletes will not have unexcused absences. These are unacceptable and could affect a rower’s position on the team.

Another component of the team’s on-water season is a spring break training trip. This trip, which for the past several years has been to Camp Bob on Lake Marion in South Carolina, is not mandatory, but is highly encouraged. The reality is that athletes who do not attend are almost certain to fall behind their peers since they are effectively missing at least 2 weeks, and perhaps as much as three weeks, of practice.  (Crews at the camp row 2-3 times per day; for additional information on Camp Bob, click here.)

Making the Team

Crew is one of the most demanding sports at Yorktown High School – as a consequence, it is not for everyone. It requires a high level of commitment, endurance and determination. Equipment and coaching limitations also require that we limit the size of the team to 100 athletes, 50 on the girls' side and 50 on the boys' side. Cuts, if necessary, will be made in January and February.

Earning a Seat

The selection of a crew is the first major hurdle of the season. There are some general guidelines used by the coaches in the interest of finding the fastest crew in the fairest way. The assignment of seats and a coxswain within a crew is a balance of measurable elements (height/weight, erg testing results, seat racing results), intuition and common sense.

The seats at either end of the shell (bow pair and stern pair) have a disproportionate influence on the balance of the shell. Generally, the most technically sophisticated athletes will be put there. The stroke (who looks at the coxswain) is responsible for establishing the rhythm and intensity of the entire crew—often a coach will set this leadership seat first because of its importance. An ideal stroke of a crew has a steady and smooth rhythm, is very competitive and is one whose rowing remains solid even when there is a great deal of pressure.

The center seats of the shell are the heart of the crew, and one generally finds the tallest and strongest people rowing there. Each seat makes a certain contribution, and some athletes row some seats better than others. This is where the coach uses his or her experience and intuition.

In rowing, the fastest crew is not always made up of the oldest, biggest, or strongest athletes, but a unique combination of all these and other factors, all of which hopefully combine to make a crew more than the sum of its parts.

It is the policy and practice of the boosters not to interfere with coaching decisions regarding the placement of athletes, which are the sole discretion of the coaches. Athletes also must respect the coaches’ decisions.


Race schedules are posted on the website as soon as these are available, usually on the Thursday preceding a regatta. Transportation to the regattas is provided by the boosters or Yorktown High School as determined by school policy. In the event that individual transportation or car pools are required, families will be notified in advance.

Each crew is required to arrive at the race location (for local races) or travel departure site (for away regattas) at the specific time set by the coaching staff. A crew will not row if all members are not on time. Coaches must be notified as early as possible of last minute illnesses or emergencies.

All team members must wear the designated racing or uniform attire for all YHS-sanctioned races and activities. YHS team members also are expected to exhibit the highest standards of sportsmanship and support for the team at all competitions. Exemplary conduct is expected at events and practices, including but not limited to bus rides, travel to and from events and practices, hotel stays, and team meals. (To read the entire code of conduct, click here.)


Student-athletes are students first, and should never use crew as an excuse for neglecting their schoolwork. Yorktown has clear eligibility rules for students participating on sports teams, click here to read the full document.

Students that fail to comply with these requirements will not be allowed to participate in any competitions. If team members are having trouble, they are encouraged to talk with their coaches as soon as possible.

Also, all team members attending out-of-town regattas that will force them to miss classes must take the initiative to see their teachers prior to their absence in order to get assignments and then to complete the work in a timely manner.

Lettering Policy

The eight rowers and their coxswains in the men’s and women’s 1st varsity eights or any member of a varsity crew that medals in the Virginia state championship regatta will earn a varsity letter.

Any athlete who has rowed or coxed at least three consecutive spring seasons also will earn a varsity letter, regardless of boat placement.

Juniors and seniors who have participated in at least three spring seasons who do not meet the above requirements may be awarded a varsity letter upon the recommendation of the coach and the approval of the board or by approval of the board when nominated by at least two board members. This recommendation will be based on the athlete’s attitude, attendance, improvement in erg scores, and racing experience.

Letters are awarded by the YHS Activities Department at the spring award ceremony. Other awards are awarded by the coaches at the end-of-season crew banquet.