Santa Clara University’s men’s crew team will soon be rowing a brand-new eight-seat boat, thanks to a donation from a group of young alumni.
“This particular varsity eight crew has had a good fall season together, and this is where the young alumni really felt that the new boat could make a difference,” said Staci Gustafson, associate athletic director. “This group really wants to see the men’s program improve, and we rely on donations for equipment.”
A group of recent graduates led by Geoff Demander ’09 pooled their resources to purchase the $34,000 Vespoli V1 eight-person boat.
“We got these donors to step up in the worst economy since the Great Depression and get a boat,” said Jimmy Shoven ’08, assistant director of the Santa Clara Fund. He was captain of the men’s crew team his senior year. The athletic department and some parents also made contributions, but the nine young alumni gave most of the money.
Demander, a staff accountant at Ernst & Young who came up with the idea of a donation, initially thought about buying a van for the team. But after talking with other donors and team members, there was more excitement about a new boat.
The boat has nine seats (for eight crew members plus the coxswain, who steers the boat), and each will be inscribed with the name of a donor. The boat itself will be named The Demander.
The new boat does not necessarily give the team an advantage over other teams, but it will keep it from falling behind. Wear and tear on older boats can impede the team’s progress. Also, technological improvements make new boats better.
“Better equipment basically allows the athletes to perform to the level of their ability,” said Wieslaw Kujda, the men’s crew head coach.
The donation is also a morale boost for the team, Demander said: “All the guys love rowing in the new boat. They’re going to go out there and make sure it goes fast.”
The fundraising process took just three weeks, Shoven said. He hopes the success of this fundraising campaign can inspire more fundraising for some of the University’s smaller sports teams.
Learn more about Santa Clara University's crew team.