The University of British Columbia rowing team has a long and robust history, recently celebrating a full century of athleticism, leadership and excellence.
The team marked that 100th year milestone this September with an evening gala event honouring alumni and donors, toasting the program’s lengthy history and presenting a moving video. Sally Jones, captain of the women’s team, says being surrounded by so many alumni was an emotional experience. “I teared up a little watching the video. I feel so lucky to be part of such a legacy and such a cool community.”
That community of rowers includes the current roster of about 60 athletes who’ve been sweeping their way into the spotlight recently, with three consecutive wins at the Canadian University Rowing Championship [CURC] and a number of overseas regatta placements. “We’re working hard to put the UBC brand on the international stage, providing strong competition against international crews,” says Aiden Della Siega, captain of the men’s team.
Autumn is crunch time for rowing, with the arrival of new recruits at late-August training camp marking the start of the season. “Around the boathouse we call it ‘ten weeks of fall fury,’” says Aiden. “Training ramps up hard and fast after camp, and it’s ten weeks from there to the national championships.”
For new UBC team members, making it to championships is marked with its own celebration—and a unique prize. Every athlete who attends CURC for the first time goes home with a new pair of Blundstones. Says Sally, “It’s a pretty special thing to receive, through this amazing partnership. We call it ‘earning a pair of Blundstones.’”
And the athletes love them. “You should see rower gatherings. When you walk in the front door, there are 60 pairs of Blundstones sitting in the entry,” laughs Aiden.
“And you’ll see a bunch of pairs on the docks when you come down,” says Sally. “It’s the best west-coast shoe ever for both class and practice—they keep your feet dry and they just mold to them.”
Those furious weeks of fall practice are in full swing right now, with championships just around the corner in Welland, Ontario. After the regatta wraps up, they’ll keep setting their sites higher.
“We’ve been having a lot of success at the national level, so we’re trying to take that next step and really face some of those top crews from around the globe and stake our claim,” says Aiden.