(& maybe a refresher for everyone else)

So you've joined crew!  Now what?

Welcome and congrats on selecting the best team at Oakton!  Please take a look around this website and get to know more about the details of our sport, and how you can get the most out of your time with Oakton Crew.

You may also want to review our Frequently Asked Questions page for general answers to common questions.


Starting in the fall, we hold Green Day/Learn-to-Row sessions for novices and returning rowers, to give you a chance to get in a boat before Winter Conditioning begins and to meet some of your teammates.  If you are not in an OHS winter sport or outside athletic activity, it is highly recommended that you participate in our Winter Conditioning program to get in shape for the rigors of spring rowing.  Winter Conditioning runs from November until mid-February, when final team selections occur and spring water practices begin.  Regatta season runs from the end of March through the end of May, and we typically participate in 7 local and 2 travel regattas. 


  • SERVICE SHIFTS FOR CREW & FOR VASRA: The membership commitment all athletes and parents sign when registering for Oakton Crew spells out what we need from families to help Crew thrive and to support our athletes. Every family is required to fulfill certain minimum service requirements each year, and examples of the various service options are listed under our Support menu. Filling service shifts for Crew and service shifts for VASRA is mandatory for all families, but you can select which specific jobs sound most interesting to you and fit your skill set and comfort level. Additionally, most of these jobs are a lot of fun and get you more involved in something that's important to your child. The SIGNUPS option under the SUPPORT menu has a list of all open service shifts during the season.

  • FUNDRAISING PARTICIPATION: In addition to service shifts, all families must participate in fundraising activities or pay the required minimum fundraising amount to opt out. We cannot meet the team's financial needs without participation from ALL families. Oakton Crew receives no funding from the school or from FCPS, so we must raise the funds needed to retain the best coaches, maintain the best fleet, and organize the best support system for our athletes.

  • FOOD CONTRIBUTIONS: All families are expected to contribute assigned foods for pasta parties and healthy donations for the Boathouse Hospitality tent as part of their commitment to the team. Food assignments for pasta parties are announced at the beginning of the week in the Catch, and if an athlete attends a party to eat, that athlete also needs to have contributed to the whole. To keep our team fed, we need everyone to contribute.

  • Please make sure to check all of your emails from Oakton Crew, as they contain important information which teammates and families are expected to know.

  • We also make all date announcements via email, and most important dates are on our CALENDAR as well. Teammates and families are expected to keep track of important upcoming dates.


Please tell your coaches IN ADVANCE if you'll be missing practice for test prep, school projects, or appointments and planned trips.  While everyone is expected to attend all practices (including Spring Break), your coaches understand that some days schoolwork takes priority, and some days you're feeling ill.  Oakton Crew adheres to the following protocol for notice of absences

  • Students are expected to contact their coaches in advance of an absence with an explanation. This is not your parents' responsibility — as Crew athletes you're developing independence and time management skills, and students are expected to communicate with their coaches in advance unless there's an emergency. Send an email to your head coach and cc EITHER an assistant coach or one of your parents, in advance of the absence with the reason you'll be missing. Please provide as much notice as possible so your coaches can adjust daily practice line-ups as needed.

  • Your coaches provide a list of contact emails during Winter Conditioning; if you did not add these to your contacts, please ask a captain or a teammate for the address and send your own message.

  • Do not pass messages to your coach through another teammate you must personally let your coaches know in advance, as it's unfair to your teammates if your coach can't make effective practice plans.

  • If you don't have a smart phone, talk to your coaches about options for same-day notices.

  • Don't be afraid to reach out if you have a concern about practice — the coaches understand you are students with heavy workloads, and they also don't want you to practice if you're sick. You won't get better, and you'll infect your boat!

What Do I Need for Water Practice?

  • BRING a large reusable water bottle every day with your name written on it in BIG SHARPIE LETTERS. Make sure it's full before you leave school. Please do not bring plastic bottles, as the garbage problem is a huge issue at the river. Nalgene or similar products are great, and you may want to pick up a couple to cycle and wash. Available at Target, REI, or Dick's etc... If you buy them on Amazon, don't forget to purchase through Smile, and select Oakton Cougar Crew Booster Club to support the team.

For February and March especially, stay covered, stay warm with thin layers, and stay as dry as possible.  Always bring a spare set of clothes in case you get wet.  Here's what you'll need until it warms up:

Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.
— Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
  • a long-sleeve polypropylene shirt (wicks away moisture, unlike cotton)

  • running pants/tights or snug sweat pants & shorts (baggy sweats can get caught in the slide)

  • socks (2 pairs) & running shoes in case you're running hills or grandstand sprints

  • crew jacket or similar waterproof windbreaker

  • workout shirt for second layer

  • a hat

  • thin gloves or mittens for land workouts

  • water, water, & water & a snack

  • MIT Crew has a great article on layering HERE

There are outdoor changing areas at Sandy Run, but you should change at school before getting on the charter bus or in your carpool — it's much easier to change at Oakton than to change at the river.


Continue to hydrate, and eat lean proteins, pretzels, vegetables, fruits & nuts, or whatever your coaches recommend; do not use exercise as an excuse to eat a bunch of junk food after you work out, or you risk undoing all those gains you just made.

caring for your uniform:

Every teammate pays for a uniform ('uni') and a tech shirt when they join the team, and those garments are designed to last for your career at Oakton with proper care.  Care instructions for your Boathouse uni are HERE.  If you need a new uni during your time in Crew, it is your responsibility to order a new one with the Spiritwear VP, and you will be responsible for costs, so please make sure you take good care of it.



do WE row in the rain?

Yes.  If we didn't row every time it rained in the spring, we'd never get out on the water, but the practice time is worth it (plus rowing in the rain builds character).  If there's a blizzard or the water temperature is dangerous, or if there's lightning or high winds, practice will be on land for the day.  The safety of our athletes is a paramount concern for coaches.  On bad weather days, keep an eye on Slack & Twitter for announcements, and you can follow @SandyRunReg for updated river conditions.


  • Put your name on everything that goes to the Boathouse. EVERYTHING. Even your flip flops. Even your shorts. Especially your water bottle.

  • If you lose something, post a note on Slack in the General channel.

  • Bring a snack or an extra sandwich for after practice — you'll be starving. Protein, dried fruits & nuts, bananas, granola bars, or ask your coaches for suggestions.

  • A gentle reminder about deodorant — the bus ride back will be, um, challenging with 50+ rowers post-workout. Toss an extra stick of deodorant in your crew bag for before and after practice, and please avoid sprays — the aerosols are not great for your lungs or your teammates' faces.

I am having trouble affording crew.

Oakton Crew seeks committed, motivated athletes regardless of your family's financial resources.  We recognize that Crew is expensive, and if you would like to row but your family cannot meet the costs please contact your coach to discuss options for requesting a scholarship or partial scholarship.  Additionally, each fall Northern Virginia high school students on free/reduced lunch may apply for funds from the Julia Shew Memorial Rowing Scholarship fund, described here, and if additional funds are needed Oakton Crew may be able to help balance the expense.  Please don't hesitate to ask about options.

If you have additional questions about anything from what to wear to what to eat to techniques for getting more awesome, ask your coaches — they are here for you.  You can also ask your team captains, or email them at

Parents can send a message to our Novice Parent Reps if you can't find what you're looking for on this website — they are ALSO here for you.  Reps are listed on our OCCBC page, and can be reached via email at