Saint Augustine’s University Starts First HBCU Women’s Rowing Team In The Nation


April 12, 2022

They’ve been working on the rollout for the past year. 

Saint Augustine’s University (SAU) makes history, launching the first HBCU women’s rowing team in the nation, St-Aug reports. 

During the 1960s, Howard University sponsored a rowing team in which a 1964 Sports Illustrated article highlighted the challenges of “the first Negro institution to crash the exclusive ranks of college rowing.” It would be almost six decades before Howard’s rowing endeavor was ever mentioned again, per an Instagram account “Rowers for BLM” that shows the Howard University rowing crew in a 2020 post. That post sparked SAU students to begin looking into the history of HBCU rowing. 


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A post shared by Rowers for Black Lives Matter (@rowersforblm)



“We started looking into Howard and what they had going on, and [Dr. Janas] put us on a little assignment. We didn’t find anything: Just Howard, and that was about as far as rowing at HBCUs went,” said SAU junior Mikahya Hill. 


Now the SAU School of Business, Management & Technology has announced the launch of the first HBCU women’s rowing team in the country, Dr. Mark Janas, a SAU professor, coaching the indoor training sessions and virtual competitions. 

“We’ve had rowing in mind since the inception of our virtual sports program and suite that opened in early 2021. ‘Virtual sports’ in our definition are distinct from ‘esports’ in that they are real sports that require the equivalent or similar skill and fitness as the ‘real sport’ counterpart, but they can be done virtually,” said Dr. Janas. 

The team has been approved and registered by the American Collegiate Rowing Association (ACRA) and outsources other coaches for live water sessions including North Carolina State University Rowing Team Head Coach HT Slaughter, and Coach Kees Koopman of the Triangle Rowing Club. 


Hill is one of five student-athletes who have joined the SAU rowing team, currently competing virtually in the Quad category. The group plans to expand their team to ten athletes with the hopes of competing in the eight categories. 

“We’re just eager to get on the water already. We want to get things going and get more dedicated people on the team who want to make a name for ourselves,” said Hill. 

The school will compete in other local regattas in the upcoming months with live water competitions expected to begin in Fall 2022. ACRA president Cam Brown spoke about SAU entering the association, saying, “ACRA is proud to do whatever we can to support our sport’s growth and encourage SAU and other HBCUs to join our organization.”


To learn more about the SAU women’s rowing team, follow them on Instagram @SAUCrewTeam. You can also donate to the women’s team here.

Photo Courtesy of @SAUCrewTeam/Instagram

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