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Northport rowing club seeks partnership with high school

Long Island Rowing Club member James Lanzio, 14,

Long Island Rowing Club member James Lanzio, 14, rows alongside fellow Northport High School student Sarah Pitfick, 14, in Northport Harbor on Saturday, June 25, 2016. The rowing club hopes to help the school's students establish an official crew team. Photo Credit: James Carbone

Officials with the Long Island Rowing Club plan to float a proposal for Northport High School to establish an official crew team, after securing a contract with the village that allows the group to use the beach at Scudder Park for training and storage.

The contract signed June 24 by Northport Mayor George Doll and rowing club president Brian Giehl lets the club use the beach south of Cow Harbor Park to train and compete, and to store some of its boats in a fenced area near the beach through Nov. 30. The club is to pay the village $100 per month.

If both parties are happy at the end of the contract, a long-term agreement would be developed, village trustee Ian Milligan said.

“We thought this was a great activity for the park, because it’s really underused,” Milligan said.

The Long Island Rowing Club was established in 2001 as the Half Hollow Hills Crew Club, Giehl said. It has roughly 45 adult and youth members who train and compete together in the “club” category at regattas.

Club members also coach the Huntington High School crew team. Officials hope to do the same for Northport — 16 of its youth members last season were students at the high school — now that they have a closer location for practice.

The club had practiced at Fleets Cove Beach in Centerport since about 2008, when it had to relocate because the Coindre Hall Boathouse they had been using was deemed too dilapidated to be safe, Giehl said.

Scudder Park is a good location for rowing because the topography protects rowers from high winds and choppy conditions that are more common at Fleets Cove Beach. Scudder Park includes a playground and pavilion; the beach has a ramp and floating dock to launch boats.

Conditions at Fleets Cove limited the club’s rowers to practicing 11 days this spring — much fewer than the 20 to 25 days they hoped for before the state championship May 14-15.

The club will continue rowing in both places this year, in part because Huntington High School’s crew team practices at Fleets Cove.

The effort to establish an official Northport High School rowing team is still in the concept stage, Giehl said.

“We have the equipment, we have the coaching, and Northport Village and Northport Harbor have the area that could be used for practice or races,” Giehl said. “And they [student rowers] could get credit just like all the other athletes do at school.”

He said student club members deserve the chance to compete for scholar athlete awards.

Henry Oderwald, 18, of East Northport and a recent graduate of Northport High School, said he wishes he could have rowed on an official school team.

“We work just as hard” as other student athletes, said Oderwald, now a coach with the rowing club. “It was a lot of work to be able to row at that caliber, to be able to race and win. . . . You don’t get as much recognition.”

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