For Lorain County residents Logan Burns, Nathan Taylor and Victor Yavornitsky, the juice is well worth the squeeze when it comes to high school rowing.
Burns, a Sheffield Lake resident; Taylor, a North Ridgeville resident; and Lorain’s Yavornitsky are members of the St. Ignatius J8 crew team that recently won a Student Rowing Association of America national championship at the organization’s annual regatta in Zanesville.
High school rowing is a way of life in New England and the eastern coastal states.
St. Ignatius was able to top teams from Washington, Miami, Maryland, New York and New Jersey in the race for the championship.
“I went on vacation to Washington, D.C., with my family and saw a crew rowing on the Potomac,” said Burns, who will be a junior. “I thought it was really cool. When I got to Ignatius I saw they had crew as a sport, went to a camp and kind of fell in love with it.”
The St. Ignatius crew team practices out of the Cleveland Rowing Foundation on the Cuyahoga River.
“We start in August and we finish at the end of May, with very few breaks,” coach Connor Walters said. “They trained pretty much for three full seasons. These guys are very committed. They get up early to go to lifting, they have practice after school and they travel on weekends. They work very hard and put in a lot of time.
“This year, especially, I think they’ve seen why that’s worth it.”
Taylor, who just finished his sophomore year, said he doesn’t think of the practice as work.
“It doesn’t get in the way of much because we love doing it,” he said. “We made the choice to go down there every day because it’s what we love doing. We don’t have a lot of time when we’re not in practice, but we still love doing the work every day.”
Love it or not, the team spends a lot of time together working to improve.
“When we’re in season we’re on the water for 2½ hours every day,” Burns said. “Then we have lifting three days a week for an hour-and-a-half in the morning. During the winter we practice for a couple of hours every morning. It’s a lot.”
Through the endless hours the team formed a strong bond.
“It’s very special. It’s just very rewarding when they buy in to the training and what you’re coaching them to do,” Walters said. “There is a lot of trust involved. They trust each other and they trust the coaches. When you can get that kind of trust, that’s when you can get the kind of result we got in Zanesville.”
“We really formed a brotherhood together,” he said. “We’re always looking out for each other and pushing each other to go a little further and work a little harder. We push our bodies to the absolute limit.
“(Winning the national championship)…it felt like a complete dream. I couldn’t believe it had happened. I was so happy we were able to come together and accomplish this.”
Walters thinks this team could change the perception of high school crew in the Cleveland area.
“It’s a huge accomplishment and, hopefully, helps people recognize that there actually is a lot of momentum in the Midwest in high school rowing,” he said. “We’re very proud of these guys and they are very excited and motivated to continue to take this team to more national championships in even higher boat classes.”