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Campus News

Rossi Drops the Hammer

By Greta Petry (April 8, 2005)

UAlbany student Lisa Rossi came in first of 29 women in the Charles River All-Star Has Been (CRASH-B) Sprints World Indoor Rowing Championships in Boston in February. She won a gold medal and a hammer.

"The hammer is significant, and an honor to win, because of the phrase ‘drop the hammer,' which refers to your oar in the boat," she said.

Rossi, a sophomore from North Tonawanda, N.Y., with a double major in Spanish and Italian and a minor in criminal justice, would like to one day work for the NYPD and later, the FBI.

She may just do that, considering the focus she brings to rowing.

"I only joined the crew team upon arriving at UAlbany and had never rowed before in my life," said Rossi of the club sport.

"I didn't know I was interested in crew until I saw the team recruiting on the podium in the fall of 2003," she said. "I only joined because it looked like a good workout. Now, however, I cannot imagine my life without crew – it has helped me manage my time, lose weight, gain confidence, make amazing friends, become a leader, and gave me my boyfriend (who is also on the team)."

The CRASH-B competition is an indoor event for rowers who want to compete during the winter, but generally crew is done on the water outdoors. People from about 14 through their 80s competed from 20 different nations in Boston, Rossi said. About 20 rowers and two coaches represented UAlbany crew at the event.

While she won first place in the coxswain women's event, Rossi explained she is not a coxswain on the UAlbany team, but a rower.

"Coxswains are the girls or guys in the stern of the boat steering with the rudder and calling out to the rowers. They are usually very small, which is why the weight for women at CRASH-B's was 120 lbs. and less. They usually do not row, but at this particular indoor event there is a coxswain event, meaning if you are 120 lbs. or less you can row in it. I made the weight so I rowed in the coxswain event," Rossi said.

"The coxswains never row, except they have this one event in this one indoor competition," she said. "The whole reason I did it was because, with my times, I knew I could win if I made the weight. My 7:54.5 is how long it took me to row 2,000 meters on my own machine racing against the other 28 women in my category," Rossi said.

In spring and fall the UAlbany club rows on the Hudson River for practice and wherever the regattas are for competition.

There are different types of boats. "You can scull by yourself; there are doubles, pairs, fours, and eights. I rowed in an eight last semester," Rossi said. "This semester we have a varsity women's four and a varsity men's eight. At regattas there are mixed boats, but varsity rows either women or men – no mixing."

Rossi's first place time was two seconds slower than her personal record, which she made the day before placing second in the lightweight category at Adirondack Sprints, a small indoor competition at Skidmore College.

"They say crew is like a cult and once you're hooked, that's it," Rossi said. "Well, it's the truth. I wouldn't give up my spot on the (UAlbany) team for anything. The sport is truly amazing."