Out on the Water

teenagers rowing on a boat to practice on a small lake
The Mt. Lebanon Rowing Club is always looking for new members. As a way to boost recruiting, the club offers free learn-to-row camps at the Montour Marina Boathouse, June 19-22 and June 24, and August 7-10 and August 12.

aroline Robbins was walking down the hallway between classes at school one day and was intrigued by a flyer for a camp held by the Mt. Lebanon Rowing Club. Her experience trying the sport on the Ohio River last summer got her hooked.

Now she’s a member of the high school club team, going into her second season as a freshman.

Teenagers lifting a row boat above their heads in a storage shed to carry it out onto the water“I really enjoy the sport more than I have with others that I’ve joined,” Robbins, of Poplar Drive, said. “I really feel like it works my muscles better in ways that other sports really haven’t.”

She had tried many activities, including soccer, basketball, dance, tennis and gymnastics. She had canoed and kayaked with her family, but the rowing—or crew—was a different and exhilarating experience.

DJ Vaglia, head coach of the Mt. Lebanon Rowing Club and an alum of the team, who also rowed in college at Cornell, is happy to have Robbins on the team, but he’s also happy to have any boys and girls entering eighth through 12th grades come out in the summer and give rowing a try, whether just for a fun summer activity or with an eye toward pursuing the sport.

“You have people who have vaguely heard of rowing and want to try it out with no experience whatsoever. We love to have those people,” Vaglia said. “It’s always an experience teaching someone who’s never sat in a boat.

“But we also see people who have rowed in other programs and are there to see if they are a good fit for the team.”

teenagers in a row boat next to the doc in the water getting ready to row away, in the background a man is in a boat with a bullhorn giving instructions

Rowing is a spring club sport, with several other high schools in the area competing in regattas. The Mt. Lebanon squad has 30 to 40 members who practice year-round and race in boats of two, four or eight rowers, plus the coxswain, who sits at the front of the boat facing the rowers and gives instructions.

The camps this year are scheduled for June 19-22 and June 24, and  August 7-10 and August 12. Those in eighth grade and up interested in participating can get information and sign up at mtlebanonrowing.org.

Photography by Ken Lager