Historic collaboration helps validate crew as an off-campus sport for area schools
Earning a varsity letter through sports or other school-sanctioned extracurricular activities has carried honor and prestige for generations.
Caroline Craycroft, a junior at Highland Park High School, and other rowers with Dallas United Crew never had that opportunity until this year.
“Before this, I felt like I lived in divided worlds — school and rowing. This letter brought them together.”Caroline Craycroft
DUC, based at White Rock Lake, includes several Park Cities students yet operates independently from the HPHS athletic program.
In 2020, the organization reached agreements with administrators at HP and three other schools — Bishop Lynch, Lakehill, and Woodrow Wilson — enabling rowers to share in the proud tradition of affixing letters to their school jackets.
DUC officials collaborated with each school’s athletic director to decide the criteria, which includes athletes consistently rowing at the highest varsity level and those who have shown dedication to the team by rowing three or more years with DUC. Both oarsmen and coxswains are eligible.
“Rowing adds to the sports schools can offer, and athletic departments that partner with DUC keep more kids active and learning through sport,” said DUC program director Steve Perry. “Our high school team draws athletes from 26 area high schools. Varsity letters are just one aspect of how we can work together. We also team for off-campus PE credit, National Letter of Intent signing celebrations, and scholar-athlete awards.”
Rowers train six days a week, year-round. Perry said a varsity letter communicates students’ dedication and provides scholastic endorsement of their sport on college applications, regardless of whether they compete in crew beyond graduation.
Craycroft is one of 14 rowers in the inaugural class of letter-earning DUC honorees, almost half of which attend HP. Others include Grace Condon, Ava Craycroft, Kate Corey, Georgia Wellborn, and Drew Favors.
Four have since gone on to collegiate rowing programs, including Condon (SMU), Corey (Northeastern), Wellborn (Fordham), and Ava Craycroft (Texas).
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