Spring 2018 Newsletter

Message from Paul Winter, Director of Rowing & Coach

The year 2018 is starting out to be a breakthrough year for the Spring Lake Crew Club. Students from Spring Lake and Grand Haven (as well as one from Mona Shores) have been training indoors at the banquet center at Fruitport Golf Club thanks to the generosity of the owners, Bob Chandonnet, Fred Hohman and Denny Cherette, who allowed us to use the space. We train on indoor rowing machines or “ergs”.  Our erg times have improved from last year and we should be acquiring more medals this spring as a result.

Over the winter, we secured the use of the field behind the Spring Lake Middle School soccer field, which includes about three hundred feet of waterfront on the Grand River. Fred and Sue Hohman donated their floating dock to us. Supported from previous donations, we are able to purchase additional low profile floating cubes to add to the donated dock. When combined, we will have a 60’ x 8’ launching dock. We have been walking our boats into the water or “wet launching” for the past three years. The new system will be useful for many years to come and the rowers will enjoy dry feet!

This spring, we will dedicate our first named boat, the “E.L. Garrison”. Dr. Edgar Garrison was a dentist in Spring Lake who designed a dental matrix system with his son Dr. John Garrison at a time when most dentists contemplate retirement. The system revolutionized the process for dentists to perform composite fillings worldwide. Ed, a close friend of mine had a great love of both sports and academics. He passed away in 2009. Last year, the company he co-founded, Garrison Dental Solutions, provided funds to allow us to acquire an eight from a girls prep school in Cleveland. It will be used for many years to come.

When we started the rowing club in 2015, we began with an 8 lent to us by GVSU. We now have 12 boats comprised of six 8s, four 4s, a quad (a four person sculling shell), and a training single. Our fundraising goal this year is to acquire another four and a double or pair (a two person shell that can be either sculled or sweep rowed). We also have three launch boats to coach from as well as assuring everyone’s safety in the event of a mishap.

We hired a new Head Coach, Jeff Pipp.  You can read more about him on page 2. Jeff passed his U.S. Rowing Level 2 exam over the winter. I continue on as the Director of Rowing and coaching as well. Both Jeff and I should have our Level 2 Certification by the end of Spring. Mandy Boersen, who rowed for four years at GVSU, is in her second year of coaching and will be our Novice Coach. She has two other rowers in her family. Her daughter Emma rows for us and won the Forest Hills Ergatta Women’s Novice event last year. Mandy’s other daughter, Audrey, is a Sophomore at GVSU and is on the Women’s Varsity team.

Yours in rowing,

Paul Winter

Winter Indoor Training was conducted at the Fruitport Golf Club & Banquet Center

Crew is a CO-OP Club Sport for Grand Haven HS, Spring Lake HS and other high school age students in the area.  Men and Women Rowers compete at Novice, JV and Varsity levels in regattas in Michigan in the fall and spring seasons. Most events are for groups of 4 or 8 rowers with one “Coxswain” driver on each boat. We are one of 19 scholastic programs in Michigan. College rowing opportunities are plentiful for men and women. Scholarships can be pursued by filling out NCAA applications. Typically, there are more scholarships for women than men due to Title IV at Division I schools.

We would like to introduce our new Head Coach, Jeff Pipp, who joined us in the spring of 2017. His rowing resume is impressive and having roots in Grand Haven, makes it even more special. Jeff graduated from GHHS in 2006 and was a tri-sport athlete participating in Cross Country, Wrestling and Baseball. After high school Jeff went to MSU where he began rowing as a Novice Freshman, having no prior rowing experience. He quickly adapted to the sport and by the spring of his Sophomore year, he advanced to Varsity. He rowed in 8’s and 4’s and attended many regional and national championships, winning for MSU Men’s Rowing. In spite of a challenging degree in Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, Jeff was Academic All-American 3 years in a row, and Senior Class Council for MSU. After graduating, Jeff was Assistant Coach for the Men’s Crew and Women’s Club at MSU in 2010. Jeff now works as a Sales Representative for Spring Meadow Nursery in Grand Haven. In the past few years, he has been rowing with GRRA in a number of Masters events. We are thrilled to have Jeff on board with us!

I have an invitation for you. I hope you take me up on it. I am incredibly excited about the opportunity we have. Every successful group I have been a part of has had a strong community. Whether it was a sports team or place of employment, there was one thing that that differentiated the groups that were self-propelled: it was the community culture that surrounded them. When I joined this team last year, I saw how strong the community already was. This program was brand new in 2015 and already we have so many people ready and willing to donate their time, money, and volunteer their skills to help the team. Every season it seems that we are propelling the program further. This winter we are in a new facility thanks to a donation of a member of our community. Another donor has donated portions of a floating dock that we can use at our new location in the spring so the rowers don’t have to wade into the frigid water to get in the boat. The Spring Lake School system is letting us use some land on the banks of the Grand River so we will have more water to ourselves away from boaters allowing our rowers to practice safely. I am excited to see the improvements that the rowers are making at winter training be applied in the spring when we race. We have added boats to our fleet and we will coach as many kids that show up to fill them. The more rowers that show up, the faster we will improve – so invite every high school student you know to show up and check out the sport.

We have an opportunity to continue to build this program this year. We have more athletes joining the team to see how great this sport can be. We have more parents becoming engaged with the team. Whether it is driving kids to and from practice, helping with set up of the team food tables at races, or showing up to help prepare the new location (we will need some brush cleared among other things).

My invitation is simply this… Build the program with us! I encourage you to engage with the team and help out. I am excited about where this program will go in the coming years. I know if we have a community that is focused on setting up the rowers for success, that is what they will have, whether it be in a boat on this team or what comes after high school. I am excited that you have invited me to be a part of this community.

Farthest on right, Coach Jeff at Head of the Charles with MSU Men’s Alumni Men’s Lightweight 4+ in 2016

GOLD MEDAL WINNERS Grand Rapids Fall Classic 2017, JV Men’s 4+, on the Grand River at GRRA. Pictured L-R in the boat: Tyler Harms, Corbyn Terpstra, Luke Rantanen, Schuyler Betts, Coxswain Alex Reed. On dock, Coach Jeff Pipp and Coach Paul Winter. These are the first Gold Medal Winners for our program. It was a beautiful day for rowing and great results for all of our boats.

BRONZE MEDALISTS Grand Rapids Fall Classic 2017, Novice Mixed 8+, on the Grand River at GRRA. Pictured L-R in the boat: Abigail Anderson, Morgan Womack, Louis Malott, Matthew Marshall, Spencer Betts, Quinn Byington, Gracy Rieger, Katherine Pease and Coxswain Nathan James. First regatta ever for most of these rowers!

FALL 2017 SEASON ENDER  The Lake Leelanau Chase held on October 29th was a great way to wrap up a successful season with our largest crew to date. We had nearly equal numbers of GHHS and SLHS students on the team. Meeting kids from different schools makes our sport extra special. Lots of smiling faces despite dealing with cold and wet conditions. These kids know how to make the best of every situation!

WHAT ROWING MEANS TO ME…   by Alex Reed, Coxswain and team photographer  To me, crew is both a mental and physical workout, where the mind is trained as much as the body. It’s a sport that is constantly pushing me to never give up because everyone in the boat and on the crew team relies on each other to always give the best performance that they can. Coxing involves trying out new approaches and seeing whether or not they work. It’s both a pleasure and a responsibility. It brings out confidence and leadership skills that I wasn’t always aware of. Being a coxswain also involves trying to understand others’ perspectives as much as possible in order to encourage them and help them improve their rowing. It’s about working with and learning more about my teammates and then using that knowledge to accomplish goals together. It’s about communicating with everyone in the boat so that the team can have the best regatta possible. Overall, being a part of the crew team means improving my current skills as well as learning valuable new ones.


  • A Racing 4—With the growth of our numbers, we need one additional 4 to race. Cost is $4,000 to $6,000 for a quality used shell.
  • Much Needed Cargo Trailer—$1,500 to $2,000 for used. There is no storage for us at the school so, we need a storage trailer asap (in kind donations accepted!).
  • Sculling Oars (need 8 oars) – Two oars cost about $500. We do not have any yet.
  • Double / Pair Scull – $3,000 to $6,000 range for good used boat.
  • Aluminum Boat with Outboard Motor (donation of used boat accepted!)

Rowing is a very expensive sport. For an example, a brand new 8 person rowing shell runs about $60,000. All rowers pay seasonal dues to cover operational expenses. We work hard to keep those fees as low as possible by relying heavily on volunteers. Rower’s fees do not go towards capital expenditures or purchases of assets needed for the program. We buy used equipment as much as possible. This obviously requires more maintenance and upkeep however, it allows us to accommodate more rowers with more serviceable boats. Our donors have been so generous helping us acquire all of the team assets to date. We had a record number of 34 high school rowers last fall. The program is growing and thriving. Thank you for your support!

If you would like to donate online, please click here:  DONATE ONLINE

Any donation amount is appreciated! Thank you for your support! We can’t do this without you.

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