In 2004, after he and his family moved to Mountain Lakes from their native Ohio, Jordan Ansell, then 17, learned that lacrosse was a popular sport in his new hometown. But he was really hoping there would be a crew team for him to join.
"These kids are born with sticks in their hands, and I think it's an awesome sport, but if I were to play, I'd have to go through years of training," Ansell told the Daily Record in 2004.
According to that article, Ansell and parents Lynne and Jeff, were able to rally enough support to launch a Mountain Lakes Crew Club for both boys and girls.
"They personally sponsored the club for several years until the club became large enough to incorporate in 2008. The initial family formed the club based on the love of the sport and the desire to introduce the sport into Morris County. We initially rowed in Parsippany, but as I mentioned, when we started rowing eight-plus boats, we needed to look for a large body of water," said Jim Walsh, president of the club's Board of Trustees.
The club decided on Lake Hopatcong to serve as its home because it rows eight-plus crews, and the boats mandate a larger lake and motorized launches.
"We like Lake Hopatcong because of its central location, the size of the lake, and our ability to maintain a local presence at Lee’s Marina," said Walsh, who added the club is based there and typically practices at least five days per week from 3:30-6:30 p.m. The club typically travels on Sunday to participate in regattas.
This year, the club held the MLCC Sprints on Lake Hopatcong April 3. In addition, it participated in races with North Rockland Rowing Club, Newburgh Rowing Club and Newburgh Free Academy. Last October, the club hosted a Learn to Row program and in the spring.it held a rowing festival at Lake Hopatcong. From June 10-20, the club participated in the U.S. Rowing Youth National Championships in Oak Ridge, Tenn. According to Walsh, the varsity girls team placed 10th overall.
In addition, "For the first time ever, we had two boats race on the Head of the Charles in October 2010, which is the world’s largest two-day rowing event and one of the most prestigious races. Our boys' four-plus boat included the team of Charles Yakimischak, Matt Walsh, Scott Bouzane, Brian Wilkens and Raphaela Putz, and the girls team was Callie Bouzane, Katie Harrs, Kenzi Dignes, Ziski Putz and Hayley Diverio," said Kim Wilkens, whose son is on the team.
She added that for the first time, the club had two crews qualify for the championships this year (Men's Varsity 8+ and Women's Lightweight 4+, which included more than 1,500 athletes from high school and junior rowing program across the country competing for national titles in 18 boat classes.
The club is funded from membership fees, donations and fundraisers (such as wine tastings, silent auctions, rowing festivals and yard and bake sales and car washes).
So, what is a crew club anyway?
"A crew club is a rowing club. Primarily, we are sweep rowers -- each athlete has one oar -- and there is a coxswain in the boat. We mainly race eight-plus (up to 56 feet in length) and four-plus (up to 41 feet in length) shells. We also have one double scull -- tow people with two oars. In the spring, we compete at regattas in sprint races -- race side by side. These races are typically 1,500-2,000 meters. In the fall, we compete in head races that range in distance but are usually around three miles. Each crew starts in single file, and the fastest boat wins," said Wilkens, who explained that Lee's Marina offers them a secure location to store their boats.
"In season, we are able to use our ergs indoors, if there is bad weather. When the club first started, we had to trailer our boats to and from the lakes and rig and derig them at every practice. Not having to do that enables our athletes to have more training time on the water. Of course, without question, it is also a beautiful location."
Matthew Abate Mountain Lakes Sophomore
Daniel Admirand Boonton Township Freshman
Leo Boerstoel Boonton Township Freshman
Scott Bouzane Mountain Lakes Freshman
Zachary Conner Mountain Lakes Freshman
Christopher (CJ) Gallo Mountain Lakes Freshman
Michael ("Luke") Graham Mountain Lakes Freshman
Jeffrey Grippaldi Mountain Lakes Freshman
Luke Hickox Boonton Township Junior
Kyle Lachman Mountain Lakes Sophomore
Teegan Macleod Mountain Lakes Freshman
Darian Parsey Mountain Lakes Sophomore
Stephen Reidel Boonton Township Junior
Alex Rosen Mountain Lakes Sophomore
David Teitel Boonton Township Freshman
Kristian Vyff Mountain Lakes Junior
Matthew Walsh Boonton Township Junior
Evan Watson Mountain Lakes Sophomore
Brian Wilkens Boonton Township Junior
Kenzi Dignes Mountain Lakes Sophomore
Hayley Diverio Newton Senior
Elena Friedberg Mountain Lakes Junior
Becca Gero Morristown Junior
Jessica Grippaldi Mountain Lakes Junior
Katie Harrs Boonton Township Junior
Nyna Mund Mountain Lakes Sophomore
Nicole (Nikki) Musick Lake Hiawatha Junior
Christine Nauss Mountain Lakes Freshman
Liz Nauss Mountain Lakes Junior
Kathryn Oram Summit Junior
Raphaela Putz Mountain Lakes Senior
Daniela Rosen Boonton Township Sophomore
Saraa Rosen Boonton Township Sophomore
Meredith Sullivan Morristown Junior
Amelia Whiting Randolph Junior