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Hofstra Crew History . . . by Roger Baxley

Here is the history as I recall it:

In 1988, Mark Greiz and I decided to start Hofstra Crew. We had never rowed before or even watched a regatta. But for some reason, the sport appealed to us. We managed to convince the SGA to give us a bunch of money and then we went in search of a team. We put fliers all over campus and received a pretty good turn out. Mark noticed John Kuriger at the meeting and told me John should be on our boat. John turned out to be the only other truly dedicated person in our boat. Finding the fourth member would prove elusive.

Now we needed a place to row. We had no idea where to go but we assumed that since we were near water, there must be some where we could do it. Then one day out of the blue, we heard a knock at the door. It was Jim Long. We had no idea who he was. He said he heard we had a team and wanted to coach. He told us we could row at Sagamore. We never found out how he knew Hofstra had a crew. (We had only been in existence for a few weeks!)

So John, Mark, myself and a guy named Rob started the first boat. We struggled to learn and after a few months Rob quit. Subsequently through the years we went through many different people in our boat (I may have forgot some):

  • Henry Zimmerman
  • Blake Thomson
  • Mat
  • Ron Patterson

Not knowing a thing about shells, we called a manufacturer in New England. We told him we were new to the sport so he recommended a bow coxed 4 boat he had in stock. We later learned that we had gotten "taken" - the bow coxed boat proved very difficult for us to learn in. The following year we were able to get more money from the SGA so we bought the Hudson 4+. Two guys from Canada delivered it and were very afraid. They thought all New Yorkers carried guns and thus were going to get shot.

After Jim Long left we found a new coach - Mike O'Leary. He used to show up at practice at 5 am drinking a "tall boy" Bud. He was a crazy Irish man but he really knew had to row and motivate us. During his short tenure, the team began to grow. We had a women's 4 and two men's 4's. Sagamore allowed us to borrow their shells. But after half a season, we lost Mike O'Leary as a coach but found Sixto Portilla. He was an awesome athlete and great coach. But he too wanted to leave because like the other coaches, we really couldn't pay him anything. But Julie from the women's boat convinced him to stay. I forget the other women's names in that boat but they were fun, wild bunch of girls.

Eventually, Sixto left for the Peace Corps and we found Andy. Under Andy we had our most growth as a team.

NOTE: Sixto now competes in the Men's Lightweight Single's. He was in the following competitions:

  • 2003 USRowing National Championship Regatta
  • 2003 US World Trials

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Hofstra Crew Alumni Association 2001 Updated on 02/20/2003