ShareThis Page

Plum freshman learning the rowing ropes at Steel City

Michael Love
| Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, 8:58 p.m.
Michael Love | Plum Advance Leader
Plum freshman Joe Durso helps take a boat from the storage garage before a workout session last week at the Steel City Rowing facility in Verona.
Plum Advance Leader
Michael Love | Plum Advance Leader Plum freshman Joe Durso helps take a boat from the storage garage before a workout session last week at the Steel City Rowing facility in Verona.

Joe Durso waited for his chance to move one of the large boats out of the storage garages at the Steel City Rowing facility in Verona.

The Plum freshman help- ed other student-athletes in Steel City Rowing's high school program move the boat the 100 or so feet to the docks on the Allegheny River.

Last week's practice session is something Durso is getting used to as part of his new journey into the sport of rowing.

And he is glad he has had the chance to begin that journey.

“It's nice to be out on the water,” said Durso, the lone member this fall of the second-year Plum rowing program.

Over the summer, Durso received a list of Plum fall sports available, and he noticed rowing was on it.

“(Athletic director) Bob Alpino told me and my family to email (club program director) Janet Kolar, and (Kolar) told us to visit the Steel City Rowing website to check things out.”

Durso did so, and he signed up for the “Learn to Row” session on Aug. 28.

“I anticipated the physical part of it. Towards the end of the first (practice session), I got a little tired,” said Durso, who also plays dek hockey in Penn Hills.

Durso said watching rowing during the London Olympics last month sparked his interest in the sport.

The U.S. men's and women's rowing teams were competitive in all 12 events, and the Americans brought home three medals — one goal and two bronze.

The women's eight captured its second consecutive Olympic gold medal.

The “eight” refers to the number of rowers each team has in its boat.

“The sport (in the Olympics) seemed to have a lot of respect, and I thought it would be fun to give it a try,” Durso said.

There are two types of rowing — sweeping and sculling.

In sweeping, a rower has one oar manipulated with one or both hands. This is generally done in pairs, fours or eights. In sculling, a rower uses two oars, and, Durso said, he favors this type of rowing so far.

Steel City Rowing's high school program features rowers of different experience levels, from highly competitive rowers with years of experience from even before their high school years to younger and less-experienced rowers, such as Durso.

Steel City rowers come from schools such as Riverview, Shaler, Shady Side Academy, The Ellis School and Winchester Thurston.

“(The experienced rowers) have been such a big help,” Durso said. “They're always giving me tips and making sure I am comfortable with whatever I'm doing.”

Durso said he wishes he would have started rowing earlier, but he's here now and is looking forward to several years of fun on the water.

“I finally decided to take advantage of living next to the water in Pittsburgh,” he said.

Although he is the only Plum rower at the moment, he hopes more of his classmates will give it a try.

“I've told people I've started rowing, but I'm not sure what they think,” he said. “I think it would be a good idea for them.”

Kristina Lanfield-Maurer, the director of rowing at Steel City, said there are upcoming opportunities for prospective rowers of all ages to get involved.

A free “Intro to Rowing” session for those in grade six to adult will be Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. A “Learn to Row” session will start Tuesday and will be Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 6 p.m.

Both sessions will be at the Steel City Rowing facility on Arch Street in Verona.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.