Crew has been a club sport since the 1980's at Hamilton. The men's and women's varsity teams become the second and third sports to make the transition to varsity in the last three years. They follow the Continental women's ice hockey team, which began varsity play in 1996-97.
"The students are really excited," Murphy said. "They have been working at becoming varsity for a long time. To finally reach that goal is an outstanding achievement for these student-athletes and for Hamilton."
Hamilton crew is comprised of five different teams: coxswain, novice men, varsity men, novice women and varsity women. There are currently over 100 student-athletes on the crew club rosters for both the fall and spring.
"There is a great contingency of young athletes on the crew team right now," Murphy said. "As a college and an athletic department, we feel that the numbers will only grow as a varsity sport."
The crew teams begin practice as early as five a.m., and compete in both the fall and spring. It is one of the most demanding intercollegiate sports. Hamilton practices on the Erie Barge Canal off Muck Road in Rome. The Continentals store their nine boats in a boathouse built in collaboration with the City of Rome. However, in the winter, Hamilton practices in the basement of a dorm.
"It is a lonely sport as far as training is concerned," club coach Kevin Cotter said. "All of the athletes train with a heart monitor to keep track of their progress. Training for crew is an uniquely individual process, but once they are on the boat, it is completely different. All eight athletes have to be in sync, or else everything is off."
Hamilton will continue to compete in local, regional and national competitions, such as the Stonehurst Capital Invitational Regatta, an annual event which plays host to more than 35 clubs, colleges and universities that come from all over the United States and Canada. The Continentals will also take part in the New York State Championships May 2nd and 3rd in Rome.
Hamilton has not announced a coach for the varsity team, and will conduct a nationwide search in the near future.