The first few weeks of the Belleville High School crew season is the toughest and grueling for the students who decide to give the sport a try.
Gail Lahm, co-coach of the Belleville High School crew team, said that is on purpose to see who will want to stick it for the entire season. Usually there are a good number of students who decided that this sport is just not for them.
But this year, Lahm said a good chunk of the novice (or the new students to rowing) made through those first rugged weeks of training.
"We usually get about 100 kids to come out and top out at 70," said Lahm, who adds that several students usually drop out after the first couple of weeks. "It's not for everybody, (but) this year we seem to have kids staying."
But this year there are 87 boys and girls on the team, led by captains Ally McNish, Sheri Tom, Danny Campos and Vaugh Granados.
This is the 70th anniversary of the crew team at Belleville High School.
"Our goal is to run well, row clean and be sportsmanlike," said Gail Lahm at the team’s home across the river in Kearny at the corner of Route 7 and Passaic Avenue. "We run in a tough league is very competitive. We just want them to row well, have the love of the sport and get fit."
` The Bucs compete in the Philadelphia Scholastic Rowing Association against some of the best rowing teams in the Northeast, where the other schools work up to 12 months out of the year on the water.
For the Bucs rowers this is their only time on the water, but the Belleville coaches understand that and ask them to give their best.
And Jeffrey Lahm pointed out that this could possibly be the hardest that they work during their entire life. “They will find out what their limits are,” said Jeffrey Lahm. “It will be the hardest thing that they are ever going to do in their lives.”
The team is well engrained in the history of Belleville High School and Gail Lahm knows that. "We're very lucky to have this program," said Gail Lahm who has been a coach with the program for 13 years while her husband has been a coach for a decade. "If it was not an established program, it would be very hard to start."
More so has been the contributions from the Belleville Crew Parents and Alumni Association. Gail Lahm said that the association has purchased every boat except for two in the 13-boat fleet (seven of them are four-person boats and six are eight-person boats).
The Belleville crew includes the varsity, junior varsity and novice teams for both boys and girls. The novice team is for first-year crew members.
For Alex Nazario there is nothing like rowing. "The thing I like best about crew is the feeling of your boat moving through the water and feeling the power you put behind it," said Nazario who is a Belleville sophomore and in his second year of rowing. "It's the most intense sport I've ever been involved in."
Belleville used to have run a team with Nutley as a co-op team. It appears that the two schools separated in the 1980s when the girls team started during that period. The current boathouse was built in 1968 and is shared between the Belleville, Nutley and Kearny high school crew teams.
Season standings to date:
First of five Manny Flick series at Fairmount Park Philadelphia, Penns. March 20
Girls junior varsity 8-plus Daniela Ramos, Tatiana Mallard, Mayra Barrionuevo, Alyza Cabezas, Frangely Rodriguez, Rebecca De France, Rose McNulty Ashley Reyes ( cox) 4th place
Boys junior varsity, 8-plus Rodrigo Bunay, Ryan Cruz, Xavier Cuenca, Alex Nazario, Manuel Quezada, Steven Suchdolski, Josh Huayalla, Kevin Razo, Will Soto ( cox) 3rd place
Girls lightweight, 4-plus Sheri Tom, Tatiana Gomez, Maria Castro, Daisy Urgiles, Gopi Patel (cox) 3rd place
Boys Lightweight, 4-plus Luis Fuentes, Jeffrey Chacon, Daniel Campos, William Paralta, Vaughn Granados ( cox) 5th place
Girls varsity, 4-plus Fabiola Delgado, Karen Lau, Priscilla Calderon, Alixandrai McNish, Ashley Reyes ( cox) 5th place
Boys varsity, 8-plus Erik Cueva, Steven Moscoso, Jonathan Silvera, Andres Herrera, Fernando Diaz, Renell Victorio, Antonio Santiago, Michael Araujo , Rocco Genova (cox) 6th place
Belleville Crew schedule
April 3 at Manny Flick Philadelphia, PA
April 17 at Manny Flick Philadelphia, PA
April 30 at Garden State Championship, Camden
May 8 at City Championships, Philadephia, PA
May 14 at Passaic Sprints, Kearny
May 20 at Stotesbury Cup Philadelphia, PA
May 27 at Scholastic Nationals, Camden, NJ