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Winning the Race for College Rowing Scholarships

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

College rowing

… is a highly competitive sport that attracts athletes from all over the world. If you’re an international athlete interested in pursuing rowing at the college level, there are a few things you need to know in order to put yourself in the best position to be recruited and succeed on the college level.

While most college sports, including women’s rowing, are overseen by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), men’s rowing has its own organization, the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA)which is considered “D1” for men’s rowing, as well as The American Collegiate Rowing Association that manages and organizes club rowing, as the IRA disaffiliated with club rowing as it grew in size and recognition.

The reason men’s rowing is not affiliated with the NCAA comes down to the Title IX. In 1972, Title IX was passed, requiring federally funded programs to provide equal opportunities and resources to men and women. While this was a positive step forward for gender equality in college athletics, it had a negative impact on men’s rowing.

Large and popular men’s sports, such as football, take up a lot of university resources. To offset this, many universities instituted women’s rowing teams to offer more opportunities for women. However, this offer was not extended to men’s rowing as universities chose to allocate resources to more popular men’s sports.

With that being said, it’s important to understand the college rowing landscape in the United States. Most competitive schools, with top rowing teams usually come from high academic institutions such as Ivy League lead by Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc., consistently ranking among the best in the country.

No matter if you want to compete in NCAA or any other type of college rowing, you must be enrolled as a full-time student at a participating institution and meet certain academic requirements. These requirements vary depending on the division and the school, but generally include maintaining a minimum GPA and completing a certain number of credits per semester.

Now, let’s talk about what you can do as an international athlete to put yourself in a position to be recruited and succeed at the college level.

1. Research the schools and programs that interest you.

Before you start contacting coaches or attending recruitment events, it’s important to do your research and identify the schools and programs that are a good fit for you. Look for schools with strong rowing programs, but also consider factors like academic reputation, location, and campus culture. Make a list of schools that interest you and start gathering information about their rowing programs.

2. Build a strong rowing resume.

College coaches want to see evidence of your rowing ability and potential. This means building a strong rowing resume that includes your best times, your rowing experience (including any national or international competitions you’ve competed in), and any awards or honors you’ve received. You should also include your height, weight, and other physical measurements, as these can be important factors in rowing recruitment.

3. Start reaching out to coaches.

Once you’ve identified the schools and programs that interest you, it’s time to start reaching out to coaches. You can do this by emailing them directly, filling out recruitment questionnaires on their websites, or attending recruitment events like camps and clinics. Be sure to include your rowing resume and any other relevant information in your initial communication.

4. Consider working with a recruiting agency.

If you’re serious about pursuing rowing at the college level, you may want to consider working with a recruiting agency. Athlete Plus specializes in helping student-athletes navigate the recruitment process and can provide valuable guidance and support.

5. Stay focused on academics.

Remember, rowing is a college sport, which means that academic eligibility is just as important as athletic ability. As an international athlete, you may face additional challenges when it comes to navigating the US college system, so it’s important to stay focused on your academics and work closely with your academic advisors to ensure that you’re meeting all the necessary requirements.

In conclusion, pursuing rowing at the college level as an international athlete can be a challenging but rewarding experience. By doing your research, building a strong rowing resume, reaching out to coaches, and staying focused on academics, you can put yourself in the best position to succeed both on the water and in the classroom.

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