While the varsity rowing team prepared for the Head of the Trent regatta this past weekend in Peterborough, I met with Assistant Rowing Coach, Ron “Swede” Burak, who gave me an in depth tour of the Leo LeBlanc Rowing Centre. During my tour, Burak pointed out that Brock’s rowing facility is unique.
“Brock was the first institution to have this, we’ve had it since 1995. It was in collaboration with the
St. Catharines Rowing Club, Brock University, the government, and a
donor— Leo LeBlanc,” explained Burak.
Burak encourages the student body to utilize the rowing centre. With the varsity athletes now being moved to a high-performance training facility, the equipment in the rowing facility is open to the public. For a small membership fee, any student who signs up at the welcome desk located in the Walker Complex can gain access to the facility. It is a great place to workout, especially for students who get discouraged by the capacity of people working out in the Zone Fitness
Half of the facility is made up of an eight-person tank that allows the varsity rowing teams to train as if they were out on the water. The team typically trains early in the morning, where they also use the other side of the facility. The remaining half consists of a typical gym, where the athletes work with weights, and do cardio training as well as some core and flexibility training.
Rowing was the first varsity team at Brock, where the team began in 1964; the same year Brock was opened. With alumni Eric Woelfl and Tim Schrijver competing at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the rowing team now has had 14 alumni compete at the Olympic level. Rowing had the first ever varsity banner at Brock, and has the second most banners in Brock’s history.
Brock rowing always welcomes students who are interested in rowing to train, and possibly compete at a varsity level. First year students are placed on the novice team, where they essentially train, and try out for the varsity team. Burak explained that Schrijver got his start in rowing during his first year at Brock because he was
interested in the sport.
“Tim Schrijver, six years ago, walked in here for the first time. He had never seen the sport, never knew anything about rowing and six years later he’s representing Canada at the Olympics.” said Burak. “We say to somebody, it’s up to you. If you have the skills, the internal strength to carry out your dream, we can help with that.”
Burak himself has his own story when it comes to competing as a rower. Burak competed on the world stage multiple times, including the 1976 Olympics in Montreal and the 1975 Pan-American games in Mexico. Burak also competed on the varsity team later in life, when he attended Brock at the age of 50. His experience definitely helps motivate his athletes.
The rowing facility has helped Brock continue its success on the water this year. On September 24, a part of Brock’s varsity team took place in the Head of the Welland, where they placed first overall in the Collegiate Division.
This past Saturday, Brock was in Peterborough for the Head of the Trent. They once again found success, capturing six medals. Matt Finley earned a Gold medal in the Heavyweight Single Men event. Brock earned a silver medal in the Alumni Eight event as well as Ally Whitty and Jen Beaudette who captured second in the Lightweight Double Women event. Brock also took home three bronze medals in the Lightweight Eight Women, the Lightweight Eight Men and the Heavyweight Eight Men events.
Brock will continue their OUA schedule with the Brock Invitational on October 15 beginning at 9:00 a.m.