The Western Albemarle rowing team is heading to the SRAA Championship in Camden, NJ this weekend. Qualifying for the race is an an accomplishment for any team, but it means even more to the Warriors team that is made up of just 24 rowers.
Western interim rowing coach Tom Von Hemert says his team has succeeded despite their limited numbers. "Some of these large high schools up in Northern Virginia, [it's an accomplishment] if they bring four boats, and they have maybe two hundred rowers in their programs."
The Warriors program is independently funded by the team's parents and receives no outside funding, while their staff is made up entirely of volunteer coaches.
Western is one of only two programs in the central Virginia area. Albemarle High School is in the first season of competing as a rowing team. During season, the Warriors and Patriots travel two hours north to compete each week, because their competitors are located in Northern Virginia.
Von Hemert says racing against those programs has prepared them for what they'll face at nationals.
"It really is a testament to these rowers on the level of competition that they're taking on and what they're going to be dealing with up at the national races."