TC Tritons Emerging as Rowing Power

LAKE LEELANAU – In just two short seasons, the Traverse City Tritons high school rowing club has made more than a few waves.

A co-op program comprised of female student-athletes from Traverse City West, Traverse City Central, Grand Traverse Academy and Suttons Bay, the Tritons have quickly become accustomed to winning on the water.

“We took this group of girls who had never seen a rowing shell before and created the fastest high school women’s novice 8 in the state of Michigan,” head coach Chris Bott said.

Although not an MHSAA sponsored sport, women’s rowing is a growing sport at the collegiate level, with 88 Division I programs, including three in Michigan (Michigan State, Michigan and Eastern Michigan). It is also estimated that there is one collegiate scholarship for every three high school female rowers.

“Your first practice is largely an exercise at herding cats,” Bott said. “The boats are all over the place. It’s difficult to control. People are learning the stroke. But just two or three practices and they’re out there rowing like they’ve been doing it for quite a while.”

Despite working through a few growing pains, the Tritons found immediate success during their inaugural campaign.

Over the course of their 10-week, 2015 fall season, the Tritons captured two gold medals in three regattas, with each athlete medaling in at least one race.

The Tritons have up picked right where they left off in the fall, finishing third overall this past weekend at Ann Arbor Skyline’s Huron River Sprints, taking first in the women’s novice I 8+ and women’s novice II 8+.

“There’s a lot of competition looking at us right now because of our success last season,” Bott said. “The girls are pumped and they’re excited. They’re eager to prove that they earned that spot last year and they’re going to keep it this year.”

With the early success of the girls program, the possibility of expansion and development of a boys program might soon be on the horizon.  

“Hopefully this program expands and just gets bigger and bigger,” West senior Maria Diss said. “I would love to see a co-ed team. I think having guys down here would be fantastic and I just want it to get bigger from here.”

The Tritons return to competition Saturday in the Laddie Cup at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.