Even rowing, an arduous but largely under appreciated sport, provides a little validation that comes with a conference championship, like the one Loyola picked up last weekend.
"We've never been in the spotlight as one of the main sports, and there are a lot of signs posted around campus," senior Rich Bounds said of the fliers congratulating the men's team for its Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference rowing championship last weekend, in only its second season at the varsity level. "People have been congratulating us all week, and it's really exciting."
The group of rowers, which sophomore Dave Allen described as "a secret society," finished no lower than second in any of the six races, winning by 14 points over defending champion Marist. The women finished second, one point behind Fairfield.
Now, the team competes this weekend in the Mid-Atlantic championships at the Occoquan River in Virginia and the Dad Vail regatta on the Schuykill River in Philadelphia, and is poised for a possible berth in the Intercollegiate Racing Association championships in New Jersey's Cooper River.
The win also ensured a nice exit for men's coach Mike Green, who started as an assistant for the club six years ago, but is retiring at the end of this season to spend more time with his family.
"I'm sad to see him go," Allen said, "but glad we won the MAAC to leave him with something."
Green, an engineer from Ireland, had been at the boathouse on the Middle Branch of the Patapsco when he was asked to help with the Loyola team.
He did so as a way of putting something back into the sport -- "If you have to get up at four in the morning, they can't pay you enough even if they want to" -- and became the school's head coach four years ago.
It was about that time that the team moved from club status to varsity, which brought more backing from the school. The team would get new uniforms, as well as two new "eights" worth $25,000 each, and a new truck to carry them in.
"The biggest change was more support," said Green, whose team practices beneath the Hanover Street bridge. "More of the costs were covered. We had to make pennies meet as a club. Two new boats would have been very difficult as a club."
Last season, its first at the varsity level, the team earned a first-place medal at the IRA championships with a two-man boat in the petit division.
This season, its goal was to take down Marist, a school that was considered a not-too-friendly ruler of the MAAC.
"That's what we'd hoped for," said Bounds, who, along with Doug Sanford, has sustained the team for the past four years. "We had signs that said, 'Beat Marist.'"
For the first time, Loyola was able to field a team with enough rowers to compete with an eight-man boat this season, and Green believes that the team might be able to rise beyond its current standing.
"We're at the college level," he said, referring to the second-tier programs as opposed to world-class programs like Harvard and Yale. "Our aspirations are not to stay at that level."
All golf, all the time
UMBC and Towson both picked up men's golf titles this week and both will be going to the NCAA tournament.
Greg Cote and A. J. Glascock of Towson were the top two finishers in the two-round America East tournament, which the Tigers won by one stroke over Hartford at the Long Island National Golf Club in Riverhead, N.Y.
Freshman Mike Ball set a Northeast Conference record with a 4-under-par --140, as UMBC beat Central Connecticut State by six shots at Scotch Valley Country Club in Hollidaysburg, Pa.
Beryl Harris, Warren Drummond, Mike Curtis and Nickie Peters of Coppin State set school records in the distance medley relay and the 3,200-meter relay at the Penn Relays last weekend in Philadelphia.
Also at the Penn Relays, the Mount St. Mary's foursome of Michelle Higginbottom, Jessica St. Clair, Michelle June and Fatima Abbas set a school record in the 400 relay with a time of 1 minute, 1.21 seconds.
Western Maryland's 400 relay team of Thea Bayly, Aleya Horn, Stephanie McPherson and Jamie Falcone ran the fastest time in Division III at last weekend's Frostburg Invitational.
Salisbury State named SUNY-Geneseo's Steve Holmes as its men's basketball coach.
The College of Notre Dame named Jay Golumb its coach for women's soccer.
Towson named Christopher Riley volleyball coach.