The UC Davis men’s rowing team, existing since 1978, includes approximately 60 undergraduate students who spend their mornings every school year, six days a week, out on the water. While rowing may not draw the crowds of Aggie football or basketball, head coach since 2001, Desmond Stahl knows well the athleticism required of his oarsmen. “Rowing is a sport that, when done well, is very graceful, so it looks very easy; meanwhile the rowers are dying inside the boat. Rowing is about extending yourself to your limits. As a power and endurance sport, it is very physically demanding and requires teamwork at a different level than most other sports.”
Men’s rowing is actually a UC Davis sports club, not an athletic team, meaning it relies heavily on its coaches and student council. Made up of several of the club members, the council oversees the men’s rowing team’s relationship with the university, recruitment, fundraising and more. Surprisingly, the team recruits members of all experience levels, usually freshmen who have a history in rowing. “Most people don’t know that the majority of people on the team have never rowed before,” said junior member Jose-Luis Rayas, who joined the club in his freshman year with no previous experience with the sport. However, Desmond and his assistant coaches take interested novices and help them grow into competitive rowers.