Frequently Aasked Questions

How many students row at Brookline High School?

Crew has the highest number of participants of any sport at BHS. There are four teams: two for girls and two for boys. First-year rowers and coxswains are on the Novice teams, and the experienced rowers and coxswains are on Varsity.

Where do they train?

The team uses the Boston Latin Boathouse on Soldiers Field Rd in Brighton (1345 Soldiers Field Road Brighton, MA) for training and boat storage. The team pays a fee for this use. We try to be good citizens at BLS since we share their facility and they have been great hosts to-date.

What is BHS involvement in the crew team?

FoBR works closely with the BHS Athletic Department and pays for many of the coaches, insures, maintains, and repairs the boats, and provides transportation to some races.

Who runs the BHS Rowing program?

Brookline Rowing is run by the coaches in close coordination with FoBR.

What are the hours for practice?

Practice at BLS runs for approximately two hours sometime between 3:30 and 7:30 pm on weekdays during the fall and spring seasons; there is also practice on many Saturdays. There are usually two practices each day during the April school vacation week (except for Patriot’s Day). Races are held on most weekends from mid-September to the end of October and early April to the end of May.

Is practice ever canceled for weather?

Our athletes row in all weather unless the coaching staff determines that conditions are unsafe (e.g., lightning or very high winds predicted).  Coaches will always communicate practice schedule changes directly to the athletes asap. Our coaches check the radar every day before practice and have emergency apps that ping their phones if there are any lightning strikes within a 20 mile radius of wherever our athletes are. On the very rare occasion of such a warning, our boats head straight for the dock.

What makes a good rower?

Rowing is not the right sport for everyone. In addition to athletic ability, a rower or coxswain must be willing to constantly sacrifice for his or her teammates and to give maximum effort every day at practice. It is the consummate team sport.

"A good rower has to have three primary athletic qualities: One is stamina…Secondly they have to have wonderful balance and timing…And then finally the third quality is just raw power…" -- Stephen Gladstone, Men’s Head Coach, U. of California –Berkeley

How can I treat rowing blisters?

Blisters are a very normal part of rowing that happens to everyone, and it is a bit of a rite of passage. Like a cut, a blister should be kept clean, and an open blister should be treated with antiseptic. For practices, blisters can be covered with band-aids, and the band-aids then secured with cloth tape.

If a blister develops red streaks leading away from it, or smells unpleasant, this indicates infection and you should seek medical care, but infection is rare.

It's worth mentioning that 99.9% of rowers do not wear gloves as they rarely prevent blisters and gloves become a breeding ground for bacteria. If blisters are kept clean, they will heal and callus over, and the athletes will eventually get far fewer of them. More suggestions on blister care here. (Warning that this article's cover image is grim but the contents are worthwhile!)

What is an ERG?

An ergometer is an indoor rowing machine – also known as the ultimate torture machine. To learn more about how to erg, go to the following web site: Concept 2 – Technique Videos

What will my child’s costs for rowing be?

Spring is the official high school rowing season. The cost for the program is set by the high school during the spring season and is paid directly to the town. This fee was $300 in 2022. Scholarships from the town are available. In addition, Friends of Brookline Rowing collects a food fee to pay to feed athletes and families at all regattas. This fee was $120 in 2022.

Varsity athletes must buy their own uniforms, which cost about $70. Novice uniforms are provided by BHS and must be returned washed at the end of the spring season.

The team operates as a club sport financially independent of the high school during fall, winter, and summer where athlete participation is optional but encouraged. Friends of Brookline Rowing assesses an athlete participation fee to help cover the cost of running the program in these seasons. The 2022 fall season varsity fee was $1,000, and the novice fee was $450. The 2022 winter season varsity fee was $450, and the novice fee was $250. The summer season fee is assessed weekly and was $250 in 2022.

The team takes two optional trips during the year – a training trip to Florida during February break and a trip to the Canadian Henley Regatta in August. The cost of these trips ranged between $2,000 and $2,500 each in 2022.

Friends of Brookline Rowing has a policy that no athlete should be denied the opportunity to row based on financial circumstance. Scholarships are provided based on demonstrated financial need.

What do the Friends of Brookline Rowing pay for?

Friends of Brookline Rowing incurs about $200,000 in operating expenses each race year. These include:

  • Coaches' stipends
  • Insurance for all boats
  • Ergs and stationary bicycles
  • Maintenance and repair of equipment
  • Scholarships, awarded on an as-needed basis

Friends of Brookline Rowing pays for 100% of all equipment.

Where does FoBR get its funds?

The Friends of Brookline Rowing has two major fund raising events during the year. The Crew-a-thon is held every spring. Groups of athletes go door-to-door throughout Brookline asking for funds. Parent contributions make up at least 50% of the funds. The Erg-a-thon is held in the early fall. Rowers and coxswains ask family and friends for pledges as they row on ergs set up in Coolidge Corner.

Why does FoBR assess a fee for food served at regattas when each family pays BHS an athletic fee each spring season?

The athletic fee goes to BHS, which in turn pays some of our operating expenses such as the rental payment to the BLS Boat Club, a portion of coaches’ salaries, and most of the costs of transporting boats and athletes to regattas.

The food fee goes to pay for supplies, the trailer, supplemental food at all the regattas. Most regattas are all day events where the rowers are fed throughout the day. We also rely on parents to provide a wide array of food for the athletes and families throughout the day.

What should my child bring to crew practice?

A t-shirt, a polypro long-sleeve shirt for early spring practice, spandex shorts, running shoes, socks, and a water bottle. The river is very cold in March and April; long spandex pants and long-sleeve tops are very important. Hats and sunglasses are needed too. No gloves. Most kids wear spandex shorts or pants so that the hem can’t get caught on the seat or slides of the ergs or the shells. An extra set of dry clothes for after practice isn’t a bad idea either.

What is my responsibility as a parent?

Many hands are needed to support the team at regattas. Besides financing, driving to practice and races, and cheering at races, help is needed for the Erg-a-thon and the Crew-a-thon fund raisers.

How would you describe watching a race?

Occasionally it rains and is cold. Often it is beautiful. Parents arrive in plenty of time to stand around talking and waiting for the race to begin, checking their watches regularly. The races start late. You squint (even with binoculars) trying to see if the kids coming down the river have the appropriate color oars/boat/uniform. (Each team has uniquely painted oars.) You cheer for about 30 seconds as they row by and then you wait around for the boat to come out of the water so that you can have your child pretty much ignore your presence or perhaps ask for money to buy yet another T-shirt. Even though your child is bound to say “don’t bother coming to the races”, you really should come and see what they are spending all that time doing after school. FoBR sets up tents (bought with contributions from previous fund raisers) and provides food and drinks for the athletes and families. Come to at least one race to see the set-up and where your contributions are going. We can’t emphasize it enough – ignore your child and make a point of coming to the races. Find our tents and introduce yourself around. Join the FoBR family!

What should spectators bring to a race?

These are mostly all-day events, but you can arrive and leave at any time. Dress for the weather (layers are best); unlike your athlete you won’t be moving to stay warm. Bring good binoculars, maybe a folding chair, a camera, an umbrella, and a smile.

Is there any summer, fall, or winter BHS crew activity?

Our coaches are working on expanding our summer and fall programs to include all of our athletes. Winter training (erging, running, weight training, and yoga) is held at BHS from about November 1st until the beginning of the spring rowing season. There is a separate fee for Winter Training (see the payments page.)

Can rowing help my child get into college?

We like to think so, but it is hard to tell. Rowing seems to help women more due to Title IX. Scholarships do exist — again mostly for women. However, even colleges without rowing programs look on rowers as students who have demonstrated amazing dedication to a most disciplined sport.

How do I get information during the season?

Information is provided through emailed notices and the Friends of Brookline Rowing web site.

Most information is provided through email to parents since notices sent home with the rowers always seem to end up at the bottom of a backpack, usually wet. Coaches ask athletes to provide parent emails at the beginning of every season.

Are there any good books on rowing?

There are some excellent books on the subject for both rowers and parents:

Mind Over Water: Lessons on Life From the Art of Rowing by Craig Lambert
The Amateurs by David Halberstam
Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
The Red Rose Crew: A True Story of Women, Winning, and the Water by Daniel J. Boyne