Three Newsome High School students will compete in the crew state finals at Nathan Henderson Park in Sarasota in April. Drew Bennett, Madison Wood and Eric Hill will row for the Stewards Foundation in the Sculling and the Sweep State Championships.
Bennett, a senior, has two state silver medals under his belt already. He has been rowing for the Tritons for four years and is one of the captains of the team, as voted by his peers. He races in the lightweight category. Junior Madison Wood, who moved to FishHawk just last year, and Eric Hill, a freshman, will be competing in states for the very first time.
They are trained by first-year Rowing Director of the Stewards Foundation Joe Haney, who just moved to Tampa in September. Students from over 10 different high schools and middle schools from the Tampa area make up the program. They train six days a week during this spring season.
The boathouse is located in Harney Park at the Tampa Bypass Canal off of US 301 in Temple Terrace. This current spring season they are competing in 1,500-meter sprint races.
Haney has enjoyed coaching these three Newsome athletes. “Drew really is a fine young gentleman,” said Haney. “I’m going to miss him next year. I wish I had the ability to coach him a couple years, but I only have him for one season.”
Haney has bonded with Madison Wood over the fact that she recently moved from New York to Florida and also used to live in New Jersey, where Haney just moved from.
“It’s nice to have a mid-Atlantic northeastern person with me,” said Haney. “We have a lot of the same lingo and slang that all the local people make fun of, so it’s kind of fun and a bonding thing.”
Eric Hill just started rowing for Haney this year. He is the freshman single-sculler of the team, meaning that he does a lot of racing in a one-person boat. He also races in other team boats. “It takes a special person to row in a single and race in it at such a young age,” said Haney.
“The three rowers have three completely different ages, three different types of purposes on the team, yet they are all an equally big part of the team,” said Haney. “Our goal is to be as fast as possible. I don’t know where that will place us, but our ultimate goal is to get on the awards dock every race.”