“Row Across Florida” returns to JU Rowing

Thomas Ross, Writer

“Row Across Florida” returns to JU Rowing

by Thomas Ross

September 24, 2021

A group of people rowing a boat

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JU Men’s rowing team practicing on the St. Johns river 9/15/21. Photo courtesy of JU Men’s rowing.

 

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville University Rowing is launching their annual “Row Across Florida” fundraising campaign that will end with an “eragathon” in front of the Howard Administration Building on October 8, 2021.

“Row Across Florida is our biggest annual fundraiser and ergathon that both the JU Men’s and Women’s Rowing team hosts on campus,” said Men’s Team Head Coach Preston Weinard.

“Athletes on the rowing teams “row” the distance of the Florida coastline which is close to 3,000,000 meters on the day of the event. Each athlete rows a set distance (30,000 meters or a marathon) and supports can pledge to support the athletes on their journey,” said Weinard.

The rowing program has held this event every year since 2017. Weinard began helping with the event in the spring of 2018 when he began his coaching career at JU as a graduate assistant. Before Weinard was named Head Coach in 2021, he was previously the assistant coach for the men’s team. He has been a part of JU rowing since 2010 when he was a student and rower at the university, according to the JU Athletics website.

While not overly thrilled at the idea of rowing an entire marathon, members of the team are excited that they get to highlight their skills in an often sheltered sport on a public stage.

“As a member of the team, Row Across Florida is something that we as athletes get to perform our sport to the public to showcase what we do,” said senior team member Ethan Nazzaro.

A couple of men rowing a boat

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Senior Ethan Nazarro sitting starboard during practice 9/15/21. Photo courtesy of JU Men’s rowing.

 

“To me this means that there is a great opportunity to have the ability to showcase what we do and raise funds for the future of the team,” Nazzaro said.

Since its inception, the event has grown exponentially every year. Having completed the ergathon for three years so far, Nazzaro recalls that his freshman year the event was pretty low-key.

“The event has become more and more lively over the years, where my freshman year it seemed that just the rowers and a few others would participate to now there are many people who have never touched an erg partaking and putting in meters,” he said.

While the main event is the ergathon, the crucial element of RAF for the teams is the money raised from the fundraising campaign. Each team member is responsible for finding a set number if donors to sponsor them as they “Row Across Florida.” The money goes towards new equipment and travel accommodations for the teams as they head to regattas across the country towards the end of the Fall and Spring semesters.

“This year, the money raised from RAF will go right to supplementing travel costs,” Coach Weinard said.

“I will work hard to use these well-earned funds to get our team to compete at the highest-level possible this spring.”

The JU community, athletes, and friends of JU rowing are encouraged to donate to the campaign at https://e.givesmart.com/events/noJ/c/:dHlXE5Qjkaz/ and come out on October 8 to put in some meters.

“The Row Across Florida fundraiser means so much to JU Rowing. It brings the rowing and JU community together during Homecoming weekend, advertises both our programs, and raises a significant amount of money that goes directly to each team,” said Weinard.

“The money raised goes directly to the student-athlete experience at JU”