Row, Row, Row…2,972 Miles!

Athletics Department rows across the Atlantic; raises $500 for charity.

The Montclair State University members of the Row For It Challenge.

The Montclair State University Athletic Department rowed across the Atlantic…in miles, though not actually in the water!

The 2014 Row For It Challenge brought 25 dedicated people together to not only recreate the amazing feat accomplished by a very special young woman, in 1999, but also raise monies for a worthy cause.

81 Days – 2,962 Miles

The facts are astonishing - One woman, one 23-foot boot, and 2,962 miles.  

Those are the basic details of Tori Murden McClure’s 1999 crossing of the Atlantic Ocean that took 81 days as she rowed from the Canary Islands to Guadeloupe, becoming the first woman to accomplish this feat.  An amazing journey!

I had the pleasure of hearing Tori speak during the Division III business session at the 2014 NCAA National Convention.  Her remarks centered on her experiences as a Division III student-athlete at Smith College, but we also heard about this amazing trip across the ocean.  I was motivated to read her book chronicling this adventure entitled A Pearl in the Storm, and kept thinking that I wanted a challenge, a goal to strive for, and a cause to support. 

Row For It Challenge

After consulting with some members of my athletic department staff, we decided we would “row” as a group, across the Atlantic.  Thus was born the 2014 Row For It Challenge.  

Each of us would row 12 miles a week for 12 weeks on rowing machines inside the Panzer Athletic Fitness Center.  If 21 people committed to it, we would cover the exact distance across the ocean in the same amount of time it took Tori to do it. A total of 25 people signed up for the challenge, twenty of them Montclair State University Athletic Department staff members.  Once the parameters of the challenge were set, we needed a cause other than to just finish it.   So, we chose the National Outdoor Leadership School as the recipient of the entry fees we collected and some donations from friends.  We donated $500.00 to NOLS at the conclusion of the challenge.

During those 12 weeks we talked a lot more about rowing than ever before and people paid attention to how much others were rowing.  Competitors are competitors and this challenge was no different.  Eight people exceeded the goal miles and most of the rest met the challenge.  

“The Row-For-It Challenge has been a great opportunity to cultivate a commitment to fitness in the Montclair State Athletic Department,” said assistant field hockey coach Eileen O’Reilly.  “Throughout the 12 weeks there was a sense of contagious motivation among the team. On days when I wasn't feeling up to the challenge I was often motivated by my colleagues to go the extra mile.”

Through the course of the 12 weeks people ran into their share of squalls and rough water.  Recruiting commitments, team travel, illness, too many meetings and lack of motivation were just some of the obstacles. However most people rallied and continued their commitment to make it to the opposite shore.  It was fun, challenging and a great team-building experience, and as we all know, misery loves company.

“I think the challenge was really well designed. It was a daunting task divided into manageable sections, and there was consistent reporting, which made us accountable,” said head women’s soccer coach Pat Naughter. “There was nothing worse than having to report a bad week and nothing better than doing more miles than your colleagues."

Twenty-five people, two rowing machines, 81 days, 2972.50 miles and $500.00 raised. We Stayed Calm and We Rowed!

Holly Gera
Director of Athletics
Montclair State University