Rowing at MTL

Rowing at Mt. Lebanon

Rowing at Mt. Lebanon requires a serious commitment. This is not something to be done just to have something to do after school. We have two racing seasons (Fall & Spring) and strength & conditioning training during the winter months. Most of the team competes throughout the school year, but it is not required. Those who do not participate in both seasons usually do not compete in the fall. Our primary racing season is in the spring, so if there is a season that is not missed, it is that one.

As with other sports that you know about, there is internal competition to make a lineup in rowing and it can be intense. Unlike most other sports, there is not really a “bench” in rowing.  Everyone on the team gets the same amount of coaching and practice time and races at every regatta we attend.  Of course there are times when this is not possible, but the coaches work hard to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to race as much as possible over the course of the season.

One aspect of rowing that is different from pretty much all other sports…it is not something that anyone has the opportunity to start doing at a very young age, so if you feel like you are too far behind, you aren’t! We find this to be a big positive because everyone is starting at the same level.

It also means there is a lot of teaching & learning that needs to happen to get everyone ready to race. Because of this we set up the first year (Novice year) a little bit differently than the subsequent years. Learn more about the Novice Year @ MtL.

The time commitment is big. Your best effort is expected at every practice. Teamwork itself can be hard work sometimes. Coaches face difficult choices in deciding which rowers and coxswains will be in any boat in any given week. But in the end, the hard work and sacrifices are worth it.

Varsity Letters

Although we are responsible for nearly all of our funding we compete at a varsity level, just like the other sports offered at MTLHS.  And like those other sports, we award Varsity Letters!

The Mt. Lebanon Rowing Team is an athletic program (Boys Team & Girls Team) that competes directly against Varsity programs as well as other Club-level teams at every regatta we attend throughout the year. For Varsity Letter purposes we are designated as a Spring Sport because that is our primary competitive season.

Club Sport vs club activity

While rowing tends to be listed as a club at Mt. Lebanon, that is not entirely accurate. A “club” is more of a socially-oriented activity whose purpose is to expose students to a sport, but with a lower level of commitment and intensity than varsity sports require (e.g. Intramural Sports, Ski Club, Run for Fun).

Rowing is a Club Sport at the high school, which simply means we are not funded as part of the Athletic Budget. Our approach to practicing, training and competing in our sport is no different than how the varsity sports approach their’s; the only difference between us and the varsity teams is where the money comes from.

Since our funding is not provided as part of the athletic budget, we are self-funded.  We enjoy a great relationship with the School and Athletic Office, but outside of a small stipend from the Athletic Budget we do not have financial support from the school.

We rely on dues, fundraisers, donations and grants to meet day-to-day operations, boat & equipment needs, and racing & travel expenses. Cost can be a concern for members, so financial assistance is available for dedicated rowers and coxswains who express a need for financial help.

Scholastic Rowing

The popularity of high school rowing, also known as scholastic rowing, has exploded throughout the United States. Once the domain of exclusive prep schools, scholastic rowing teams now can be found in both public and private schools throughout the country. These teams race under the banners of high school and club teams sanctioned by regulatory rowing associations. Mt. Lebanon Rowing Club is a member of the Midwest Scholastic Rowing Association.

Novice rowers – those in their first year of rowing – may be surprised to find that there is almost no opportunity to become a competitive rower prior to high school. While there are some learn-to-row opportunities, rowing as a competitive sport does not really begin until maybe 8th grade. Therefore, unlike most other sports (which some kids may start playing even before kindergarten), rowers cannot really get a “head start” in this sport.

This is very much a positive aspect of the sport because nearly everyone rowing at the scholastic level starts at about the same age. New rowers can be assured that the coaches know this and plan the training accordingly. Because of this we structure the Novice year a little bit differently than the other years. You can learn more about the Novice Year here.

Compete & Have Fun!

We want everyone to enjoy their experience as part of the team and for us the “fun” comes in the form of setting aggressive goals and working hard every practice so we have the opportunity to achieve those goals. It’s not about playing around on the river for a couple of hours and having laughs with your friends. It’s about setting challenging goals, putting in the work, and achieving them.

It is expected that everyone on the team understand the level at which we practice & compete and approaches participation on the team accordingly. If practicing & competing at a varsity level is not something you are looking for, you will probably not enjoy your time on the rowing team.


If you have tried other sports, but have not found the right fit for you, rowing may be the sport you have been looking for all along. If you are ready to put in the effort everyday to become the best that you can be, we would love to have you join us!

Ready To Join Us?

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