Rowing club looks to get afloat

By Tony McDaniel

SIU has been without a rowing club for more than half a decade, but two underclassmen hope to change that.

The club has everything it needs to begin practicing except a faculty adviser.

Alex Tomzack, an undecided freshman from Wilmette, and Jack Fossler, a freshman from Evanston studying automotive technology, are attempting to revive SIU Rowing, a club that has been absent from SIU’s Registered Student Organizations since 2008. “I was looking for the colleges that had rowing teams,” Tomzack said. “Coming here was kind of a disappointment when I found out they didn’t have one.”


The team has 13 official and 10 unofficial members that have not signed up for the team yet. The team already possesses a four-person rowing boat with a cox in the front for steering, named the Kisker.

Fossler, the club’s vice president, said club president Tomzack, eats, sleeps and breathes rowing. Fossler said 90 percent of the team is really committed.

Tomzack said Alan Brandenburg, a former SIU Rowing club member and zoology graduate purchased the Kisker, which is sitting idle at Little Grassy Lake.

Brandenburg, who was part of the original group that founded a rowing team at SIU in 2006, said when he worked with the team it was able to go to a few competitions as well as work out together.

“It was a very nice thing to do,” he said. “ Sometimes there weren’t enough students to go out, so I would go out and help man one of the oars.”

Brandenburg said the best part of working with the club was seeing the team row on water.

“It was very rewarding just to get the boat moving down the lake,” Brandenburg said. “So much of that is teamwork. From carrying the boat from the storage point down to where you need to put it in and getting four oars to work at the same time. It really is a wonderful feeling to do that.”


Brandenburg said Carbondale is ideal for rowing because of the many lakes in the area.

The team has already begun working out together in the Recreation Center, but until the club finds an adviser, that is all they can do.

Fossler said the team is shaky right now, but will get better in time.

“We’ve been practicing proper rowing technique,”Fossler said. “ We’ve been working on more powerful rowing rather that distance rowing. [The team is] looking pretty promising once they get into shape.”

Tomzack said he is looking for an adviser interested in rowing, who would also be able to help the team haul the boat from place to place.

“It would be nice if the faculty member had some kind of SUV or big car,” Tomzack said. “You could just strap it on top of a Suburban.”

Brandenburg said in his time with the team they focused on building the organization from top to bottom with advisers first and then students. He said Tomzack and Fossler are building the club the right way.

“I hope that someone will be able to step up as a faculty adviser and help provide some guidance for them,” Brandenburg said. “I think it should be made more student-run than adviser-run than it was in the past. I hope that’d be a lot more effective.”

Tony McDaniel can be reached at [email protected]on Twitter @tonymcdanielDE