Friday, August 13, 2010

Row, row, row your boat: Timmons wins at Henley Regatta; Kandath moving on in USTA doubles

SCHODACK LANDING -- Like most teenagers, Nick Timmons is giddy with anticipation at the first signs of spring.

He’s not looking for the baseball diamond to dry out or a chance to get out on the track with his classmates at Maple Hill High School. Timmons, 15, a member of the Albany Rowing Center, is one of a small group of local athletes that spend their time competing directly on the Hudson River.

“We start the season as soon as the ice melts and we keep going until there is ice on the water,” Timmons said.

Nick Timmons rows to a first place finish in the single scull event at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta earlier this month. (Video and photos provided by Kevin Timmons).

A rising sophomore at Maple Hill, Timmons’ successes on the water aren’t limited to the Hudson or the United States. He recently competed in the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta in St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada. Rowing in a single scull on the mile-long course, Timmons won his first heat, won again in the semifinals and finished first in the finals in a time of 7:43.70, winning the Mike Wilson Family Trophy.

Nick also rowed together with his older brother, Alex, in a two-man scull, but they did not qualify for the finals.
Nick Timmons pumps his fist in celebration after winning the 1x 17-and-under event at the Henley Regatta in Canada earlier this month.

The regatta celebrated its 128th running this summer and rowers from all over the globe – approximately 3,000 in number – participated in the event.

Even with all of the natural opportunities afforded to rowers locally on the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers, as well as Saratoga Lake, few high schools offer the sport, even on a club level. The New York State Public High School Athletic Association, which oversees most interscholastic offerings such as football, basketball and soccer, does not sanction high school rowing. That distinction is left to the New York State Scholastic Rowing Association.

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Niskayuna, Shaker, Shenendehowa, Saratoga Springs and Emma Willard are among the few local schools with rowing teams.

Kevin Timmons, Nick and Alex’s father, was first introduced to the sport about four years ago. Some of his sons were playing soccer and heard about rowing through one of the sons of their soccer coach. Timmons took the boys to a summer rowing camp and the rest was history.

“They loved it, they stuck with it and it’s been terrific,” he said.

Alex Timmons, a recent graduate of Maple Hill, will be attending Cornell University this fall and will row for the Big Red. As like all the Ivy League schools, Cornell does not offer athletic scholarships.

For the girls, however, rowing is a treasure trove for scholarships. After the enactment of the Educational Amendments of 1972, NCAA schools were required to offer proportional support to male and female athletic programs based on the school’s overall population.

In most cases, that meant a 50/50 split for scholarships between male and female sports. With sports such as football and wrestling have no female counterpart, women’s rowing programs have typically become the recipients of more scholarships than the men’s teams at the same school.

Scholarships aren’t the only reason the sport is growing in the Capital Region. The City of Watervliet recently began construction of a solar-powered boat house in Hudson Shores Park and hopes to become a base for high school, college and recreational rowing teams in the future.

Nick Timmons raises the Mike Wilson Family Trophy after winning his event at the Henley Regatta earlier this month.

According to Mark Gleason, Watervliet’s Parks and Recreation General Manager, the park includes a dock and launching space for non-motorized watercraft, meaning crew teams will not have to deal with the hassle of motorboats, jet skis and fishing vessels clamoring over the same space. It has already become popular with local kayakers.

Will rowing become the next big thing in the Capital Region? The answer isn’t yet clear, but Nick Timmons will likely have something to do with that one way or another.

“Most people don’t know what it is,” he said. “But I’ve tried to get my friends to do it.”

In boys' tennis news, former Albany Academy student Matt Kandath, a Gansevoort native, has advanced to the finals of the USTA's 18-and-under men's tennis doubles tournament along with his doubles partner, Jack Sock.

They defeated the No. 1 seed in the quarterfinal round and will face the No. 2 seeded duo of Nathan Pasha and Sekou Coker Bangoura in the finals. Kandath, a rising sophomore at Stanford University, and Sock, were seeded No. 6 for this tournament.

Sock, a Lincoln, Neb. native, is ranked No. 686 in the world. A rising high school senior, Sock has one more year left at Blue Valley North High School in Overland Park, Kan.

The No. 3 singles seed in the USTA tournament, Sock is still alive in the semifinal round as well.

The winners of the tournaments, singles and doubles, earns a wild card berth to the US Open tournament this September.

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