College Rowing Scholarships. Rowing Recruiting.
Many rowers have found it pretty easy to find an opportunity to row in college, especially women. Unfortunately for men, the NCAA only supports women’s rowing programs so there are no rowing scholarships for men; but, there are tons of club programs for men to join. Roster spots and rowing scholarship money is plentiful if you know where to look. College rowing programs are unique as well, since they don’t require any prior rowing experience! There are tons of walk-on spots for athletes trying out for the first time.
Crew Recruiting Fundamentals
There are 81 NCAA Division I, 15 Division II, and 42 Division III women’s rowing programs in the U.S. Both the Division I and II levels have 20 rowing scholarships per team available. Because rowing is an equivalency sport, coaches can divide those scholarships between as many athletes as they want.
Though you might not need prior experience, you will need to have some basic athletic abilities: stamina, endurance, and balance; rowing is a physically demanding sport and requires a lot of hard work and training.
The availability and popularity of women’s crew came in large part due to Title IX; this required schools to offer an equal amount of sports opportunities as they do for men, including scholarships. So often times, women’s rowing scholarships help balance out football and baseball rosters.
Getting recruited as a coxswain is much different than getting recruited as a rower. Not only do you usually have different physical attributes, but you also require different training. Coxswains need to be able to command their rowers, inspire them, and lead them through the race. Coxswains also need to multitask while steering the boat, keeping an eye on the opponents’ boats, and calling to their crew. College coaches want to see coxswains with considerable race experience and race recordings they can listen to.
Novice vs. Experienced Rowers
Rowing is one of the very few college programs that does not require prior experience and will take on novices. While you probably won’t earn a scholarship as a novice, if you work hard and make a considerable contribution to the team, you can possibly earn a scholarship the next year. For a novice, coaches want to see a 2k erg score of 7:30 or under at Division I, and 8:00 or under at Division II. For experienced rowers, Division I coaches want to see a 7:15-7:30 score or under, and Division II a 7:30-7:45 or under. While these are just average guidelines, having any experience whatsoever could be a major plus.