The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

North Suburban Crew Unites High School Girls Without a Rowing Team at School

Flyer for North Suburban Crew featured outside the Athletics Office.

When thinking of high school sports, girls rowing isn’t usually the first one that comes to mind. North Suburban Crew (NSC), a nonprofit group based in Skokie, aims to change that. This girl’s rowing team combines crew with themes of female empowerment and community to provide one of the only rowing teams accessible to high school girls in the northern suburbs of Chicago.

Participating in NSC involves rowing or navigating a boat down a local waterway as fast as possible. The girls participate in a practice season in the fall with meets in the spring. Rowing is notorious for meeting extremely early in the morning with practice taking place before school. There are crew members, those who row, and the coxswain, who call out directions to their teammates.

Although many high schools are adding crew to their rosters, a crew isn’t attainable for most schools.

“The biggest problem with rowing is the expense. It’s a very expensive sport and being able to have the equipment is not a matter of going out and buying a couple dozen baseballs or a football, we need a specific body of water to be able to row. The boats cost as much as a car and so the expense is definitely the leading reason for most high schools not having a rowing team. On the other hand, in this area, we are hopefully opening the doors to youth rowing through private ventures,” NSC coach Bill Schaudt said.

North Suburban Crew was started in the 1990s by a group of parents who wanted more options for sports at their all-girls private school, Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart. This team eventually expanded into being available to high schoolers in the Chicago area. Rowing is one of the fastest-growing womens sports according to the NCAA [National Collegiate Athletic Association], and is a great way to expand college opportunities.

“In this sport, they provide the second-most scholarships for women in college, second to only mens football. Rowing opens up doors to so many women across the country, women who otherwise may have not had the chance to go to college in the first place,” Schaudt said.

Niles West, like many other high schools, doesn’t have a rowing team and that is due to the expense and lack of student interest.

“Rowing is not a sport that Illinois High School Association [IHSA] recognizes and I have not been asked by any students about interest in it. If we had a large group that ended up going that route and then came to talk to me, I could see about adding it as a club in the future,” Niles West Athletic Director Dr. Dana Krilich said.

Regardless of its status at Niles West, students can still participate in NSC. West students in NSC are excited about the upcoming season and are looking for new members.

I think that having a female team or having a team based on female empowerment, in general, is really special and that this team is so local. We’re really fortunate to have it in Skokie,” rowing team member and Niles West sophomore Orli Eisenberg said.

Eisenberg encourages anyone with any level of experience or interest level to give NSC a try.

“Even if you have the slightest bit of interest, do it, try it out. This team is very ‘learn to row’, so you don’t have to have any experience and anyone can join. Do it! Just do it,” Eisenberg said. 

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