BHS Crew

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Berkeley High School Crew is the oldest continuously operating youth rowing program in Northern California, and until 2014 was the only varsity public high school rowing team on the West Coast. It is supported by Berkeley Crew, a 501c(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the sport of competitive rowing for all young men and women at Berkeley High School.

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Archived Q&A and Reviews


Looking for info about crew at BHS

Jan 2009

My 8th grader son will attend BHS in fall and would like to try crew. I'm wondering if any of you with sons can inform me about being a freshman at BHS and doing crew. Are there crew camps you recommend to get him started (he's never tried it)? I saw Oakland Oars on the internet, are there more, is that a good one? Any info would be helpful.

I am the parent of two boys that have become rowers through the Berkeley High Crew program. My oldest found out about BHS Crew at the BHS Freshman orientation night when he stopped by the crew info table and picked up a brochure. He ended up rowing all four years on the men's crew team, and was recruited to row at Cornell, where he is now a freshman oarsman. His younger brother is now in his third year of rowing as a BHS junior. Most kids have no experience as rowers before high school, so almost all start as novices and get in a rowing shell for the first time as Freshmen. In addition to getting your child in great shape and building self confidence and focus, one of best things about BHS crew is that it gives Freshmen an instant group of friends, helping to ease their transition into huge BHS. Conditioning practice begins in October at BHS leading up to the spring racing season. The BHS crew boathouse is at Jack London Aquatic Center at JL Square, which we share with the Oakland Strokes club. Strokes has a summer rowing camp, but there is also a summer rowing camp on Lake Merritt in Oakland run by BHS head coach Chris Dadd that is an excellent intro to the sport. Contact Chris at thecrew4bhs [at] or go to the BHS crew website at Tom

Crew for introverted freshman girl?

September 2005

Can anyone give me advice on whether the berkeley high crew team would be a good activity for an introverted freshman girl? it seems quite demanding and intense in terms of the commitment required. how do the students/team members treat one another? is it a welcoming and affirming environment? thanks for any input/experiences you can share.
frosh parent

I cannot speak as a parent of an introverted daughter, but I can tell you that my daughter has been on the team for one year and is addicted to it. She was never athletic and didn't want to do any competitive sports. The great thing about crew is that no individual stands out as the star of the team. But there are still ways that the rowers can demonstrate gains in their skills. She loves the physical demands, partly because she wants to stay in shape (rowers can eat a lot and not gain weight). She loves the comaraderie (sp?) with the other girls on the team. I won't tell you that crew is perfect; of course it isn't. But I haven't heard of major problems with team mates not getting along. I will say that there was an incident last year when some girls had been drinking earlier in the day and then came to a practice. They weren't drunk but word got out about it. This was taken very seriously by the coaches and parents and dealt with directly; no further problems have occurred. I would say overall the crew environment is supportive, responsible and appropriately, not ridiculously, demanding.

This is in response to the parent of a freshman girl at BHS who is wondering about whether crew would be a good experience. I have a son who just graduated BHS and was on the men's team for 4 years. He had many friends on the womens' team, so I know a bit about the girls' team, competitively and socially. The girls are often very supportive of each other, even though there is competition between rowers within the team. They've organized and carried out fundraising together all on their own. Last year they organized an ongoing study group in support of one team member whose GPA was going to keep her from competing, and they all would get together to do homework to help her focus because they wanted her to be able to compete. They organize their own pasta feeds the night before a race. Many of them are social together outside of the actual crew events and workouts.

The social environment of 14-year-olds is pretty hard to predict in terms of what it's like from year to year and from person to person, so there's no guarantee it would be a good fit for any particular individual. Crew is a big commitment in terms of time and effort, but it offers huge physical and social benefits in return, and it can be really fun too. It was very good for my son. I'd encourage her to give it a try.

My daughter has had a wonderful time doing crew. She refers to it sometimes as ''a cult'' - meaning particularly that it is a big commitment. Her experience was that everyone was extremely friendly, and you get to know the other novices well. They're an interesting group of girls. She says she loves the feeling of flying over the water - that's what keeps her excited about it. The early mornings are a drag - but she nevertheless gets up for them, even though she's a natural slugabed. The tiredness does have an effect on how much schoolwork they can do, though, and you should all be aware that it will take up all your free time, leaving little or none for socialising or tv. (That's my caveat, my daughter doesn't care) Fiona

I am actively involved with BHS crew and sit on its parent board. I have two daughters who have been/are on the team and each has had different experiences, different years due to their personality, their success in the sport and the coach that year. Freshman and new rowers train separately from the returning rowers, so freshman year was really fun for each of my daughters - or they would not have continued. But the girls who join are different each year, so your daughter really needs to find out if she likes the other girls this year. And my once shy, introverted daughter has been successful with the team and in the sport although she isn't best friends with anyone on the team, she loves it, she was really excited this morning that practices were starting and she a lot less shy now. Lastly my daughters spend less time on rowing than I did on classical music/orchestra when I was in high school, so I have trouble with the perception that crew is such a big comittment - other activities that teenagers participate in can be a big committment, crew is just one and a really great one at that. Mary

Berkeley High School Crew Team

November 2003

Join Berkeley High School Men's Crew! BHS is one of 2 public schools west of the Mississippi offering crew to its students. The BHS Men's crew team is actively seeking any grade level BHS male student to join their novice team. Unlike private high school rowing teams/clubs, no prior athletic qualifications are required - only the interest to row and be part of a great team of guys! Financial scholarships are available. Practice is in the afternoon after school, Monday @ BHS, Wed & Fri and occasional Sat @ our dock, Jack London Aquatic Center (JLAC).BHS men's crew has consistently fielded competitive boats in the Junior National Races sponsored by the US Rowing Association. Our guys have been recruited by top collegiate rowing programs - we have alumni from CAL, Univ. of Washington and Princeton. Our next race will be Sunday, November 16 @ the Head of the Lagoon, San Mateo. Visit our website: for race schedule and to contact head coach Chris Dadd. jane