novice rowing



The Ohio State Women’s Rowing Team has a great opportunity for the best female athletes in the State of Ohio and across the country. We are looking to recruit tall, strong women that want to contribute to the legacy of Ohio State Rowing and become national champions. No rowing experience is necessary!

If you want to get a feel for Ohio State Rowing, check out our Camps page to see if there are upcoming sessions! Learn to Row Camp dates coming soon!

What is a novice?

Novice simply means that you have not rowed before and you are new to the sport. This term is widely used in rowing to organize teams, classify races, and develop training strategies. If you choose to join the Ohio State Women’s Rowing team as a novice, you are a varsity athlete and you represent the university much like any other Buckeye would.


Ohio State Women’s Rowing relies heavily on tall high school athletes that are excited to try something new and determined to be champions. We can give the right athlete what they need to know to be part of one of the most competitive Division 1 programs in the country. Don’t consider yourself to be tall? We have just the thing for you! Keep scrolling to learn more about “coxswains”.

We are recruiting for the 2021 and 2022 Novice Rowing teams and will start recruiting for the 2023 Novice Rowing team in June 2021. If you are interested in learning more about the team or know someone who would be a great rower you can:

Do I need experience to join the team?

A novice rower is an athlete in their first year of collegiate rowing. At Ohio State we specifically design a program that will teach our novice everything they need to know to compete with, and against, other elite athletes. 90% of our novice team has no previous rowing experience. On the 2016 NCAA team (that placed 2nd in the nation) 12 of 25 athletes started on the novice team. After novice year, athletes transition to the varsity squad where you compete with the best rowers from the US and around the world. You bring the grit, we give you the training.

Is this a club?
No, Ohio State Women’s Rowing is not a club. We are a fully funded NCAA Division I team that competes in the Big 10 Conference. Ohio State does have a club team that operates as a separate entity.

What type of athlete are you looking for?
Someone with a combination of the following:

  • Grit and determination– the willingness to work hard every day to be better
  • Resiliency
  • Athletic Background
  • Team player
  • Height (5’8” or taller or tough enough to make up the difference) and long wingspan
  • Competitiveness and strong desire to win
  • Great work ethic
  • Willing to represent Ohio State with pride and be a Buckeye!

How fast are we?
Ohio State women’s rowing has won 3 of the last 7 National Championships. We made history in 2018 by sweeping the Big Ten Championship; winning all seven events (five varsity and two novice). The two gold medal novice boats were full of people who had never taken a stroke before September!

We have been to the past 20 NCAA championships and won 9 Big Ten Championships. You can be a part of the legacy of champions. As a Buckeye you will race with and against the best.

As an Ohio State Rower, you will:

  • Learn and be a part of a new and upcoming sport
  • Be a part of a team with incredible teammates who may become your lifelong friends
  • Have connections to hundreds of alumni in countless career fields
  • Learn how to endure, push yourself, accomplish your goals, and learn to be your best self
  • Learn valuable life skills that you can’t learn out elsewhere but can be applied anywhere

What about my class schedule?
We understand that you didn’t come to Ohio State this fall planning on being a member of Buckeye athletics. For this reason we work around your current class schedule. As a varsity athlete, you will have priority scheduling for the spring semester and beyond which makes it easy to accommodate both classes and rowing. When making your fall class schedule in your novice year, keep either 7:00-9:00am or 5:30-7:30pm free of classes on any given day of the week.

What is practice like?
In the fall semester, we practice 5-6 days a week for about 90 minutes. Practices are held at the Schumaker Complex and at our Boathouse on the Scioto River. Fall practices start the second week of class. You will typically choose one session per day but the frequency and times vary as we progress through the fall.

We start with basic technique on the erg (indoor rowing machine) and functional movement/strength. From there we progress to rowing on the water while always expanding your cardio base and core strength. We use our winter season to get fit – consisting of running, erging and strength training. As soon as the weather allows we get back out on the water and row. Each day we build on the day before (physically, mentally and technically) to be as prepared and fit as possible when we race at the Big 10 Championship in May.

When are tryouts?
The first step to becoming a varsity athlete is the informational meetings in the first week of fall classes. Check our news feed here or on social media to learn more about these meetings or contact the novice coach, Emily Barber – The first 40 days of the fall is considered a tryout period. It is an opportunity for you to try a new sport and see if it is something that you are interested in pursuing.

What can I do now to help me prepare for my first fall as a rower?
The best thing that you can do to prepare for your first year as a rower is to be active. There are many sports and physical activities that can grow your aerobic base, and the fitter you start the faster we will be for the Big Ten Championship.

If you have time over the summer you can register with the NCAA eligibility center. Getting this done in advance can save some time later in the year, but you don’t have to do it before you try the sport.

Not very tall but still want to be a Buckeye? We have the perfect thing for you. Be a coxswain!

What is a coxswain?
The coxswain is an essential part of our team as they are responsible for steering the boat, communicating with the coaches and coordinating the power and rhythm of the rowers. There is only one coxswain in each boat so it is a competitive position. A typical coxswain is 5’5” or shorter and weighs around 110lbs. We look for athletes that have clear communication skills, have a desire to be a leader, and are competitive and motivated.

What about my grades?
We know that you have come to Ohio State to be a student first. Throughout the year we gradually build on the time demands of being a varsity athlete to give you the opportunity to adjust. The 2018 team had 53 rowers who earned student scholar athlete honors in a wide variety of majors. As a varsity athlete you have access to academic support throughout the year.

NOT SURE? Try out!

You never know if you don’t try.

Rowing is one of the few sports that you can learn in college and have an opportunity to compete at the highest level. Many of our rowers have gone on to represent their countries on the international level and compete in the Olympics.

This is a great opportunity for competitive, team minded athletes to attend a top athletic and academic university. No experience necessary! In the novice (first) year at Ohio State new rowers gain the skill, culture and fitness to be successful competing at the NCAA Division 1 level.

Ready to Join the Team?

Athletes can apply at this link:

Coaches,  Athletic Directors, and parents can nominate athletes at this link:

Questions? Contact Emily Barber –


Be a Buckeye. Be a Champion.