In the long list of Texas high school sports, rowing might not be the first that comes to mind, but water racing is coming to North Texas.
White Rock Lake in Dallas hosts the State High School Rowing Championships beginning Saturday.
On Friday, only a few of the 11 high school rowing teams competing for a state title were able to practice before being called back to dock, due to high winds.
Davis Colwell, head coach of Rowing Club of The Woodlands near Houston, said conditions will be another factor on the water this weekend.
“We’re an outdoor sport, we take what comes our way,” Colwell said. “And we’re a water sport so, hey, you’re gonna get wet.”
A little extra breeze can’t take away the momentum Dallas is feeling about hosting more than 200 competitors at the two-day state championships beginning Saturday morning.
Austin has hosted all state championship regattas, but White Rock Rowing management has agreed to host the event this year, which will allow high school crew teams to expand the racetrack by 1,000 yards at 2000 meters.
“Having the state championship at a distance of 2 km is an important step. It legitimizes what we do,” Colwell said.
Rowing is not a recognized sport by UIL, which oversees Texas high school athletics. North Texas is home to 7 of the 11 teams competing this weekend with private schools like Hockaday, St. Mark’s, Ursuline Academy and Jesuit field teams, as well as White Rock Rowing and Dallas Rowing Club which are open to all local high school students. .
Lauren Centeno is the head coach of the Dallas Rowing Club Juniors, which she added this year is made up mostly of first- and second-year competitors, many of whom are only competing in their first or second regatta this weekend.
“It’s great for the city of Dallas, it’s great for the county, it’s great for the entire Metroplex,” Centeno said. “It’s fun to win and I hope we take home trophies at the end of the day.”
Race heats start at 7 a.m. on Saturday and finals start at the same time on Sunday.
Colwell says he hopes anyone around White Rock Lake this weekend will take some time to watch the students compete in a sport that’s easy to understand as a spectator.
“You don’t need to know a lot about the sport to understand what a one-on-one race is like,” Colwell said. “They will have it.”