GVSU Rowing Club pulls together to save equipment from flood

Posted at 10:53 PM, Feb 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-25 22:53:14-05

ALLENDALE, Mich.-- Widespread flooding in west Michigan isn't getting in the way of the GVSU Rowing Club's commitment to their sport. Within a few hours of notice, rowers cleared out hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment from their boathouse, which sits right on the Grand River.

“We’re a really tight-knit group of people," GVSU Rowing President Faith Platz tells FOX 17. "We spend pretty much every day together throughout the whole school year.”

Rowing is a year-round sport and with GVSU's team being one of the best in the state, they can't afford any setbacks.

“On Monday, we saw the weather report and I looked at the hydrograph which, as a rowing coach, you tend to every day," GVSU Rowing Coach John Bancheri tells FOX 17.

Coach Bancheri knew the flood was coming and right away decided what had to be done: get everything out of the boathouse.

“I sent out basically an APB to the whole team and said look, I know it’s midterms, I know it’s Monday, I know you’re all busy and you all have commitments. We can cut this out of the workout, cut this in half but we need all hands on deck," Coach Bancheri says.

With the road the athletes usually take to get to the boathouse now more than eleven feet under water, boats costing upwards of $40,000 needed to be saved.

"This has got to happen and we’ve got to make sure it happens today," Bancheri says. "Tomorrow’s gonna be too late.”

Within hours, they got the job done.

“I was really impressed with how many of the freshmen came down and put in the effort," GVSU Rowing Vice President Elliot Rietch tells FOX 17. "Kinda really showed that everybody’s got a commitment to the team, the commitment to the equipment and they’re willing to help out.”

It was a lot of work that needed to get done at the last minute. Still, these students aren't complaining.

“I know that a lot of people are you know, in their houses, they’re flooded and everything and we really feel for them," Platz says. "We’re really lucky to just be able to you know, work with what we have and row where we can.”

At the end of the day, it comes down to teamwork. In a few days, the team will leave for Oakridge, Tennessee to start their spring training.

“We train hard together," Platz says. "And we win together and we lose together.”

The part of the Grand River near Allendale is expected to crest early Monday morning and recede early Saturday morning.