HHS Rowing Club Handbook

Welcome to the Hillsborough High School Rowing Club

Hillsborough High School Rowing Club was founded in 1998 by HHS parents to provide students at the school with an opportunity to participate in a sport that encourages physical fitness, teamwork and organized competition for young men and women. We are privileged to have an opportunity to participate in this sport at a public high school because it is generally only offered at private schools or in college. Our rowers have rowed in national and international competitions and attained college scholarships.

This handbook contains information to help new rowers and their families understand this exciting sport and the policies and procedures that govern the day-to-day activities of the rowing program. New and returning rowers and their families should familiarize themselves with all of the information contained in this handbook. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask returning parents as they will certainly be eager to share their experiences. In addition, we encourage you to visit our website often for news throughout the season.

The club goes by several names:

  • School Name: Hillsborough High School Rowing Club (HHSRC)
  • Short Name: Hillsborough Rowing Club
  • 501(c)(3) Legal Name: HHS Rowing Club, Inc.

About Rowing

Rowing is one of the oldest Olympic sports. In the United States, rowing is sometimes referred to as crew. Rowing is the sport of propelling a lightweight boat (shell) with oar blades as fast as it will go to race against other boats. While rowing, the athlete sits in the boat facing backwards (towards the stern), and uses the oars which are held in place by the oarlocks to propel the boat forward (towards the bow). An eight-person shell is approximately 65 feet long.


Rowing is a unique sport in several ways. While teamwork plays an important role in many sports, it is absolutely critical in rowing. A boat’s success is dependent on all rowers putting forth 100% effort, in perfect coordination. Rowing is as much mental as it is physical and success requires total concentration.

Practice Schedule

Our athletes practice and compete in the fall and spring seasons of the school year. Practice schedules are established by the coach and are usually 5 days per week for 2 to 3 hours per practice. With such a rigorous practice schedule, our students learn to balance both academic and athletic goals. The lessons of time management, concentration, endurance, dedication, and camaraderie are lifelong and invaluable.


HHSRC is an organization made up of volunteers. The program is managed and run under the direction of the Board of Directors. Board members are typically parents of rowers, elected in late spring to one-year terms. The Board of Directors meets monthly to make decisions for the smooth operations of HHSRC. Parent volunteers are needed for many very important duties such as practice supervisors, equipment maintenance, regatta transportation, regatta hospitality food and set up, fundraising, etc. Without the efforts of volunteers, our students cannot train and compete in this sport.

Volunteer Hour Agreement
● Our club depends on parent volunteers. For each season, Fall and Spring, each family is
obligated to contribute 10 hours of their time (20 hours annually).
● Buy-Out Fee: The club member's family may elect to "buy" out their obligation at a cost of $20
per hour.
● Deficit Fee: Families not meeting the volunteer hourly commitment by the posted deadline
(usually 2 weeks before the end of each season) will be assessed the prorated fee of $20 per
hour for any deficit.

Expectations of Coaches

Ensure safety is the number one priority. Train athletes. Provide feedback on strengths and areas needing improvement. Make fair assessments to achieve the fastest boat lineup. Provide times and locations for regattas and practices. Distribute schedules to rowers. Develop good sportsmanship in the athletes.

Thank You!

It requires a team effort to put HHSRC on the water. Crew parents and coaches, under the direction of the Board, and the athletes themselves, accomplish the work. Since HHSRC is not funded through the schools as the major sports are, it draws from the family and friends of crew members and surrounding community. Before the first boat splashes into the water, hours of work and fundraising are done entirely by crew parents and their athletes. HHSRC would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our parents, friends, athletes and members of our community who strive to make HHSRC a success.

HHS Rowing Club Mission Statement

To provide the opportunity through rowing for HHS students to develop their physical talents and competitive spirit while learning teamwork and having fun!

The information contained in this handbook is intended to provide an understanding and appreciation of the HHS rowing program, and to enhance communication among the coaches, athletes and parents. The handbook includes policies, practice and regulations that have been approved by the Board. The club reserves the right to modify provisions of the handbook at any time, whenever it is deemed necessary or desirable. In case of any such modification, notice thereof will be given as is reasonably practical under the circumstances.

Eligibility to Compete

Forms and Dues Current

No team member will be allowed to participate until all medical forms, waivers and the acknowledgment of the Code of Conduct have been completed and returned and all dues are current.

No Alcohol, Drugs, Vaping, or Tobacco Use

Any use of these will result in your dismissal from the team. You cannot be at your best if using substances while training. The team is a self-policed group. You must watch out for each other. You have a responsibility to each other to keep yourself and your teammates eligible to compete.

No Foul Language

FSRA Regatta officials can and do disqualify entire teams for the use of foul language at regattas.  This type of behavior has severe and immediate consequences. Inappropriate language (including inappropriate music) will not be tolerated at practices or other crew-related activities, including traveling to and from regattas and in team hotels.

US Rowing Safety Video

All rowers must watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx5SUe_RdgQ


Attendance is the first step to becoming a better rower and better teammate.

Absences may affect a rower’s seat or boat assignment. Practices are not optional. All rowers are expected to attend their scheduled practice. It is your responsibility to get to practice. If you know you cannot attend a practice, you must inform the coach in advance using this form. If you are sick, you must advise the coach as early in the day as possible. Missing practice without giving the coach notice is unacceptable. If a rower misses five consecutive practices without communicating with the coach or a board member, it will be deemed that the rower has quit, and the membership will be terminated. Under no circumstances are any dues refundable due to excessive absences. It is the parents’ responsibility to ensure that their child has transportation and you must be proactive in obtaining a ride. HHSRC is not responsible for transporting rowers to all practices and regattas. Student drivers will organize riders after school to the boathouse, however, in order to participate in carpools, the HHSRC Transportation Policy must be received by the club prior to the first ride.

Practice is over after 6:15 PM during the week and 10:30 AM on Saturdays. Athletes must be picked up from the boathouse promptly.

Land Training/Boathouse Safety

  • Always train in groups and in the areas designated by the coach.
  • Be aware of what is going on around you. If someone bothers or confronts you, turn and walk away. Return to the boathouse immediately and tell a coach or the parent supervisor.
  • Use the Buddy system for trips to the public bathrooms – more than one Rower necessary to visit these areas.

Boat Safety Rules

  • LISTEN. When in the boat and on the water, follow the instructions of the coxswain and coaches quickly and properly. Keep conversation to a minimum and pay attention to what is going on. Your safety as well as that of other team members, depends on your ability to hear and follow through on commands.
    • BOAT SWAMPS. If your boat swamps (fills with water) or turns over, STAY WITH THE BOAT.
    • DO NOT SEPARATE FROM THE OTHER ROWERS. Watch out for each other.
    • Don’t panic. Think! Call and signal for help.
    • Get out of the shell. Remove the oars from the oarlocks. Hold onto the boat.
    • Shells will float, even if filled with water.
    • Oars can serve as flotation devices.
  • OVERBOARD. If you catch a crab and are thrown overboard (a rare occurrence), try to keep your head down until the boat has passed. Try not to panic. Come up and tread water until the coach’s launch picks you up. The crew should stop immediately and follow the coaches directions.


Report all injuries to the coach. Coaches must complete an injury report, contact the rower’s parents and the Board President.

Dress Code

  • All rowers should arrive dressed for practice. There is no changing permitted in the Boathouse restrooms.
  • Athletes must wear appropriate rowing attire at all times, NO underwear/items that look like underwear, sports bras, or bathing suits/ items that look like bathing suits, are allowed at any time. Girl's shorts must be 3-inch inseam minimum.
  • Rowers clothing should be clean and not offensive at practice and races.
  • Regatta unisuits will be worn as intended (over shoulders) at Regattas.
  • No bathing suit tops at practice or regattas.
  • Running shoes and socks are required for each practice.
  • Hats and visors are to be worn appropriately during practice and races.
  • Unisuits are to be worn during regattas and at medal ceremonies.

Expectations for Athletes

  • Work hard to improve and strive to achieve goals
  • Be supportive of the team
  • Accept and support coaching decisions
  • Seek feedback from coaches
  • Attend practices and regattas
  • Stay drug, tobacco, vape and alcohol free
  • Represent HHSRC appropriately at all times

Regatta Conduct and Expectations

  • Team members are responsible for appearing on time for carpool or bus transportation.
  • No team member will be permitted to leave the regatta site until dismissed by the coaches.
  • During a trip, team members are not allowed to leave the race site, hotel or planned activity without permission from the head coach. Also, parents may not give their child permission to leave the race site, hotel or planned activity without consulting the head coach.
  • All other policies (curfew, room visits among rowers, and room assignments, etc.) is at the discretion of the head coach.
  • In the event rowers do not comply with published or verbal guidelines for conduct on an overnight trip, rowers may be asked to room with their parent(s) (if attending) or assigned to a coach or chaperone’s room for the remainder of the stay.
  • Room assignments will not be changed without the permission of the head coach. Under no circumstances will a team member be allowed to leave their assigned room AFTER curfew. You will be given the room number of your designated chaperone to call in case of an emergency.
  • Upon arrival at the race site, team members will help rig the boats and set up the tents.
  • Team members will help their fellow team members in and out with their oars.
  • Team members will de-rig boats and load onto trailer, take down tents and other equipment and load into equipment trailer and clean up the tent site.

Out of State/Overnight Regattas

Our team will travel to Chattanooga, TN, for the Head of the Hooch Regatta in early November.

The above crew fees cover:

  • Hotel for student-athletes
  • Head of the Hooch Regatta fees
  • Some meals included are included for student-athletes
  • Shell and equipment transportation
  • Coaches' travel expenses, and other miscellaneous costs associated with a travel regatta.

What is not covered:

  • Student-athlete transportation costs
  • Parents' travel and accommodations are the responsibility of each family.

We require all rowers to room at one hotel for logistical reasons and to promote team unity.  We reserve extra rooms for parents who wish to stay at the same hotel.  We also fundraise to arrange student-athlete travel in a coach bus with a few parent volunteer chaperons, and possibly an assistant coach. If the fundraising goal for transportation is not met, parents will be required to pay for their student-athletes transportation to the Head of the Hooch that is provided by the club. Student-athletes must travel as a team to and from the event.  If you have connections to get us good deals and want to help make this happen, we would appreciate your support.


National competitions are in May, and if we have student-athletes that qualify and attend, the cost of that trip is not covered by the club. The club will set up fundraising efforts that all National-bound student-athletes are required to participate in. These fundraising efforts will help offset the cost to each family.

In State/Long Distance Regattas

Travel costs for regular regattas, those that are a bit farther way but still in State, are not included in the rowing fees.  We attend a few regattas in Orlando and Sarasota.  If parents and student-athletes wish to travel the day before and stay at a hotel, they are free to do so at their own expense.  It is possible to drive early on Saturday mornings and get there on time, but we strongly recommend that rowers NOT make this trip on their own.

Team Support

Rowing is truly a team sport. Every student athlete who wants to row will be given the chance to do so. Encourage and respect ALL teammates. Your goal and the team’s goal are the same: to work together as the HHS Rowing Club from Tampa, Florida. Intolerance and ridicule of teammates, competitors, coaches or race officials is always unacceptable conduct. Support your teammates at regattas. Participate in carrying oars, shoes, etc., to and from the dock. Cheer teammates on as they race by. Offer congratulations to your teammates when they do well; give them your support when their boats do not do so well. We are a unified, cohesive team. We practice, travel, compete and win for each other and HHSRC.

Boat Selections

Rower boatings for races will be based on demonstrated rowing skills on and off the water, attendance at practice, leadership, and a positive, cooperative attitude. The best combination of rowers will be placed in boats based on this criteria. Coaches will make rowers aware of boatings prior to scheduled regattas.

Team Captains

The Head Coach decides whether Team Captains are to be appointed. The qualities of a team captain include strong leadership skills, good sportsmanship, strong communication skills, and the ability to mediate in difficult situations and tolerance and acceptance of all individuals. Criteria is established and communicated by the Head Coach.

Duties required of team captains include:

  • Attend scheduled practices on time
  • Be responsible for motivating the team in a positive manner at all times
  • Be responsible for leading warm-ups before practice and ensuring all equipment is put away after practices
  • Be responsible for any miscellaneous recordkeeping as directed by coaches
  • Organize any gift giving endeavors
  • Be responsible for helping with fundraising activities as needed
  • Serve as role models for all HHS rowers

Coaches reserve the right to remove the title of captain from any person who does not adequately meet the prescribed responsibilities. Being a captain is an honor that carries with it a great many responsibilities. The selection of an individual to this position and the amount of work required of a captain should not be taken lightly.

Requirements for a Varsity Letter and/or Bar

Varsity letters are not awarded by Hillsborough High School, but by the HHS Rowing Club. To be eligible for a varsity letter and/or bar, a rower must have demonstrated attitude and character consistent with the qualities outlined in the HHS Rowing Club Code of Conduct.

Varsity letters and bars will be awarded to each rower who has met the following criteria:

  • The rower has completed a minimum of two seasons with the club.
  • The rower is a member in good standing, with all membership requirements met, including fees and volunteer hours.
  • The rower has competed in a first or second boat in either a City or State championship.
  • 2nd, 3rd & 4th year bars will be awarded upon completion of 2 additional seasons.
  • Captains Pin will be awarded to all HHSRC captains who are in good standing with the club.



The club website is the main source of club information.  The home page will always have current information about upcoming regattas and events including SignUp Genius links.  There is a calendar page with a Google calendar which you can subscribe.  There are many other pages with relevant information that is of interest.  It is recommended that you thoroughly review this site.


The club uses the TeamSnap platform for on-line registration and communications for all rowing programs throughout the year.  The website has registration pages with specific registration information and links to forms and a link to the on-line registration page.  All rowers must use this system so that the club captures all necessary information and completed forms.

The mandatory parent meeting, at the beginning of the Fall season, is an important event for all rowers and their families. All necessary forms, volunteer sign ups, uniform ordering and practice schedules will be available. Coaches will talk about their expectations for the season.

Communication with Parents and Rowers

The communication you receive from the club will be via email [HHS Crew] sent from TeamSnap and Remind messages. It is very important that your email address in your TeamSnap account is current and correct, and is regularly monitored.

Additionally, please join the HHSRC Remind group, making sure to enter not only your cell number to receive texts, but also your email address, ensuring you will not miss important reminders, last-minute practice cancellations due to weather and other updates that may require immediate attention.

Communicating with Coaches

While it is normal to have questions, please refer to the website or ask other parents who might have greater experience first. If you can’t find the information there, please email the club at hhsrowingclub@gmai.com. Coaches should be allowed to focus on the coaching first and foremost. You can imagine, that if each parent communicated with the coach, there would be no time for coaching. We appreciate you following this regulation.

It is your child’s responsibility to advise their coach about missing practices or other such matters. Please use this link to advise the coaches of absences.


The rowing club does not provide primary medical coverage for your rower. Liability coverage is provided for rowers participating in a supervised rowing activity. You will be asked to provide a copy of your child’s medical insurance identification card to supplement the Emergency Medical Authorization form.


Practice: Transporting rowers to practice is the responsibility of the parents. A student may transport other students if allowed by the parents of the driver and riders.

Regattas: Team transportation to regattas outside of Tampa is typically by parent-driven carpools. On occasion, the team may travel by charter bus. Regardless of the mode, rowers are required to ride team transportation both to and from the regattas. In cases where parents wish to transport their rower after the regatta, they may do so with the permission of the head coach. Rowers are not to leave a regatta until the event is over and all equipment, including boats, oars, tents, etc., has been packed up.


Member families, including those that receive scholarships,  are expected to support fundraising events by participating, planning, and leading these efforts.  Member families understand the club dues only cover a portion of the operating expenses, and the club depends on fundraising throughout the year to cover regattas and operating expenses. Therefore, monies raised by fundraisers and corporate sponsorships/donations supplement operating funds. Each member family is responsible for raising at least $400 per year for the club. There will be numerous opportunities each season to achieve this goal, planned by our fundraising team, such as, our annual Erg-A-Thon, bingo night(s), wine tasting social, among other exciting events. Stay tuned for emails and opportunities to step forward with your commitment when events are announced. We are also always interested in what amazing talents your family can bring to the HHSRC. Any donations above the required minimum do not grant any additional or special status, privileges, or benefits to any member families or rower. 

Corporate sponsorships and corporate donations secured for HHSRC do not preclude the family's annual fundraising goal of $400 per year.  Likewise, these corporate sponsorships and corporate donations, which are vital to our organization’s budget and are appreciated, are not linked to any one rower on HHSRC or member family and do not give special status, privileges, or benefits to any general member or rower. 

We plan to hold monthly spirit nights on our calendar so that families have an opportunity to socialize and get to know one another, with a small portion coming back to HHSRC.  The club considers these spirit nights essential for team cohesiveness. However, as the fundraising portion of this activity is hard to track by family, spirit nights do not count towards the fundraising annual goal of $400 per family per year. 

The HHS Rowing Club is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, and all contributions are tax-deductible.

Grievance Procedures

In the course of a season, there may be questions or concerns. Please send to hhsrowingclub@gmail.com.

End of Year Banquet

The final event of the spring season is a banquet to recognize the efforts of the rowers, coaches, and their families. The event is open to all rowers and their families, honorary guests, and club sponsors.

Highlights of the event include:

  • Recap of season successes
  • Varsity letters distributed to qualifying rowers
  • Special recognition of sponsors and volunteers who have contributed to club success
  • Recognition of and farewell to senior rowers
  • Introduction of next season’s Board of Directors


If you have any questions, please contact any board member by email at hhsrowingclub@gmail.com.  We welcome your input!

HHSRC is a non-profit 501(C)(3) tax-exempt organization.

Donations to the Club are tax-deductible under the IRS Code.