Sac State men’s rowing club aims to build character


The Sacramento State men’s rowing club won the 2016 Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championship after defeating UC Barbara and UC Berkeley last season. (Photo courtesy of Morgan Mahan)

Noah Alvarez

It’s 5:30 a.m. and most Sacramento State students are sleeping, but the men’s rowing club is on its way to Lake Natomas for an intense workout.

Five days a week you can catch the club at the crack of dawn on the lake, working out in less than ideal temperatures.

Club president David Granicher, who has rowed for seven years and is a second-year biology major, credits his own work ethic to his involvement with the sport.

“You develop a very strong work ethic from this sport,” Granicher said. “But I love the comradery that comes with it.”

Along with Granicher, the club is led by coach Eric Weir, a former Sac State rower who graduated in 1986. Weir has only been coaching the club for two seasons, but has been heavily involved in the rowing community.

“My wife is a rower, I’ve officiated rowing, coached rowing and helped started three rowing programs,” Weir said. “I couldn’t imagine my life without rowing.”

Weir first discovered the sport while he was riding up the American River bike trail and happened to catch the Pac-10 (now Pac-12) Championships as he passed Lake Natomas.

“I had a gut feeling that it might be a good fit for me, but I was busy with other things,” Weir said. “The next semester I had a class with one of the coxswains and she convinced me to give it a try and I never looked back.”

Weir emphasized that the lessons learned in rowing can be used in careers outside the sport. Rowers must learn to “move the boat as one,” which translates to the modern business world.

“Professional teams, no longer individuals, represent many of the new modern business employee models,” Weir said. “The collaboration skills I learned from rowing — I can still apply them to everyday life. Those skills have paid huge dividends in both my personal and professional life.”

Other current rowers such as senior Alexis Ramirez, a deaf studies major who serves as one of the team’s coxswains, credits much of her leadership growth to her role on the club.

“As a freshman, I used to attend my classes and then head home, never really socializing,” Ramirez said. “Now I put myself out there more often and I enjoy meeting new people at school or from others schools at competitions.”

Coxswains are in charge of steering the boat, giving out calls, motivating the rowers and serving as the eyes and ears of the boat, Ramirez said. She describes her position as the club’s “commander in chief.”

This year, the rowing club looks to continue making strides after winning the 2016 Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championship after upsetting UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley last season, Granicher said.

The rowing club has its eyes set on advancing as far as regionals and eventually moving onto the national championship held in Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Georgia.

“This team fought through adversity in the fall semester,” Weir said. “But athletes have stepped up and filled the voids which makes me confident we can compete for gold medals in the regional and national championships.”