Back with the Crew

11 Dec 2014, Posted by admin in Packages, No Comments. Tagged , , , , , , ,

Back with the Crew

Returning after nearly three decades away from the program, the UC rowing club coach sets his sights on reviving the team.

Story by Ellen Hadley; photos and video by Madison Schmidt

Rolf Linder has returned to coach a financially floundering University of Cincinnati club rowing team, a program that he helped establish years ago.

Linder first became head coach of the UC club rowing team in 1982 at the request of a group of Mariemont High School students hoping to start the program.

“They were a great group of kids, and they felt strongly enough about the sport to want to continue it at UC,” Linder said. “Of course they had no equipment. They had no site. They had no coach, so they got me. Then through donations, and we beg, bartered and stole just about everything we had to have to compete.”

There were no more than 20 athletes on Linder’s first team, less half of what a typical varsity-level team would have. To raise money, the team held bake sales and sold raffle ticket. They also received donations of equipment.

“Nothing was new, but we got some used equipment, which was very, very much appreciated because when you’re starting out anything is great,” Linder said.

The UC club rowing team hits the water as early as 5 a.m. for practice.

The UC club rowing team hits the water as early as 5 a.m. for practice.

Two years later, Linder left to pursue a career opportunity on the East Coast.

“That was a really tough decision because I was leaving the team that I had helped start,” Linder said. “We had a really close relationship.”

He came back to UC in 2010 to work as a fundraiser for the university. Two years later he became head coach, taking on a difficult situation.

“Unfortunately (the previous) coach made some bad financial decisions and led the team into a real rut,” Linder said.

Linder immediately focused his attention on the athletes, making sure they had a good experience. He also started building strong relationships with the university.

“He’s provided a lot of direction for our team and a lot of stability,” Marie Hopkins, the women’s co-captain said. “There’s a lot more cohesiveness and team spirit.”

Linder hopes to move the program forward as he patches its pocketbook problems.

“We have at least a small handful of people who are now on the team who have made their decision to be at UC because of rowing, and I think that’s really cool,” Linder said.

He predicts more prospective students will choose UC for opportunities in rowing.

Team captain Zach Tucker, a fourth-year rower said, sees Linder as a key to the program reaching the next level of rowing competition.

“I think he’s got a good idea of where the club is going,” Tucker said.

Hopkins believes Linder arrived at the right time. She said that the team needs someone who was would commit himself and get it back on track to becoming a larger, more competitive team.

“This is what I love to do,” Linder said. “I kind of feel like I’m at a stage in my life where I feel like I have the time to do this, and also I have the flexibility to do this because there’s no money in it.

“It’s a great group of student-athletes. I love them to death, and I think as long as the university says, ‘You’re doing what we want you to do’ and as long as the students say that, then I’m good to go.”

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