The Gamecock Rowing Club, established in 2016, is a student-run organization where no prior rowing experience is necessary.
Kendall May joined the Gamecock Rowing Club last year, and she had never even picked up an oar. With a year's worth of practice under her belt, she's now on the varsity team.
“Anyone can join,” the second-year visual communications student said. “I actually hadn't rowed before last fall, so it was my first time ever rowing, and now I made varsity; super exciting."
May isn’t alone in her initial inexperience — club regatta coordinator Carol Juneau was also new to the sport as a freshman.
"I had never rowed before coming to college. I guess what kind of got me interested was just trying out a new thing," the third-year computer science student said. “I ended up really liking it, especially being in the boats out on the water.”
May and Juneau both got their start at the club’s "learn to row week," which happens right after the student organization fair each year. The week allows students to decide if they like the club. If they continue with the club after that week, then they pay dues.
As mentioned on the rowing club’s website, the club rows on the Broad River here in Columbia less than 15 minutes from campus and competes at regattas, which are a series of boat races, in the Southeast region.
According to May, there are currently over 20 members involved with the organization, and they are always looking for more members.
"Normally, we have a table at all the org fairs, and then some of it's also word-of-mouth 'cause I know we've gotten a few people from friends of friends," May said.
Over the years, club members have earned a fair share of hardware for their efforts on the water and in regattas.
"We've gotten silver medals, we've gotten bronze medals," Juneau said. "I don't think we have a gold medal yet, but we're working on that."
Although there might not be competitions this fall due to COVID-19 concerns, the club has still been practicing similar to how they did in the fall, according to club president Gabby Ricche.
"We still practice with the same intensity, and we're kind of using the season to increase our endurance and our strength," Ricche, a third-year marine science student, said.
Ricche said she isn’t sure what the upcoming season will look like.
"As far as I know, we don't have a plan," Ricche said. "I know the school hasn't really come out with anything moving forward, or U.S. Rowing, which is the organization we're a part of; so, no one's really said anything about the upcoming season."