This is when and where the Northwestern State rowing team---or more aptly, the Demon Crew---can be seen practicing for an upcoming competition in the hopes of capturing its first national championship.
Demon Crew head coach Jason Stelly is in his seventh year as the head coach of the program having previously served as a assistant coach and as a crew member of the team.
“When I initially came to college, I was very athletic in high school and I played sports all my life,” Stelly said. “I was just looking for something different. I came here and saw rowing advertised and I loved it right away.”
Even though it is a growing sport and is a Summer Olympic sport, it is hard to imagine that that the state of Louisiana only has three rowing teams while sharing a border with the Gulf of Mexico and having many rivers and other bodies of water.
Along with NSU, the other Louisiana crew teams are LSU and Tulane and frequently competes against both in the different events and regattas. All three teams are a part of the 60-team Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association (SIRA) conference.
“[My rowers] are continually working out and working hard because they know the level of competition that they have,” Stelly said. “It’s a huge sport, our conference has over 60 schools in it and it’s a very tough conference.”
While the team also competes in different tournaments, the members also have to find ways to juggle time between their activity and schoolwork, yet the team is normally flexible on the times.
“A misconception that people have is that we get up at 5:30 a.m. to practice and that’s not the case,” Stelly said. “We usually only practice in the morning only if it doesn’t fit students’ schedules in the afternoons. We try to avoid it as much as possible for students. It does occasionally happen but we only do it if it is of necessity.”
An assumption about the sport is the training its participants do in order to compete at a high level. While rowers are using their arms to hold the oars and row, there is not a great focus on upper-body strength.
“Most people don’t realize it, but you’re actually strapped in with your feet,” Stelly said. “You take off your shoes when you enter a boat. Around 85-90 percent of the power is going to come from your leg.”
Stelly stated that most of the workouts focus on the cardiovascular system.
“We’ll do everything through body circuit and a little bit of weight training, but we definitely don’t want to bulk up our kids,” Stelly said. “It’s a lot of cardio, so they’ll be doing some running. A lot of it is going to be low-weight, high-repetition work just to get the right anaerobic muscles ready for them to row. We always like to stress that we’re not a track team or a circuit team, we’re a rowing team. So those are the muscles we target.”
For further information on how to join or support the NSU rowing team, one can contact Stelly at by phone at (318) 357.5341 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.