On Saturday, rowers from 13 area high schools competed in the fourth annual North Jersey Championship Regatta. This was the second year that Overpeck Park hosted the event. There were over 35 events throughout the day with almost 3,000 parents and 400 competitors present.
The Overpeck Community Rowing Association has been promoting the sport in North Jersey for a number of years and organizes the 1,500-meter race each year. The association’s efforts are paying off, because interest among high school students is increasing. Steve Perotta, athletic director for Leonia High School said, “Interest is high, especially with the younger kids.” The high school has offered this program for three years now. Perotta explained, “The first year, we had 16 students sign up. This year, there are 29 kids on our roster. And the numbers are up with the girls, which is nice to see.”
Parents think highly of the sport because it instills discipline and a sense of team spirit. Leonia parent Lou Luglio said, “The boys connect and they bond over it because on that boat, you need everyone to be involved.” The team his son is on, Bergen’s Catholic’s Squad, doubled in size within a year and now has 26 rowers.
Leonia parent April Elsasser said, “While it gets them outside and on the water, it also gets them in unbelievable shape.” Her son is a senior and hopes to continue his rowing at college level. Reinke is hoping to start a rowing league for North Jersey and more schools are joining in. North Arlington and Englewood are developing a rowing program.
The superintendent of the Leonia schools was in attendance. She said, “We’re thrilled to support our crew. It takes a lot of creative planning and parent partnership to add a sport with the budgetary constraints we face, but it provides such a well-rounded opportunity for our students.”
A lot of the crews have been traveling to Pennsylvania to compete in the Philadelphia Scholastic Rowing Association League. Reinke said, “Philadelphia is a long haul. Athletic directors are realizing this is an opportunity they want their students to have and Overpeck Lake is really the perfect venue for rowing.”
The venue provides sprawling lawns and a perch that overlooks the lake. There was a tailgating atmosphere with dads grilling, moms setting up the tables, and rowers huddling together to keep warm.
You can visit, northjerseyrowingregatta.org to see who Saturday’s winners were.
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