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  • Writer's pictureThis Is Rutherford

Nereid is Going to Nationals

Updated: Jun 3, 2023

By Jennifer Ersalesi

Photo credits (head shots): Giulia Zanoni-Mendelsohn

Over the past few years, Nereid Boat Club has become known as a hidden gem in our Borough. Youth from all over the county have joined the rowing teams at Nereid and after a year of many amazing success stories, twenty-two Nereid athletes will take part in the National Competition in Sarasota, Florida from June 8-11. This is Rutherford interviewed the Nereid athletes from Rutherford to learn more about their experiences with Nereid and Nereid’s Head Coach, Zach Spitzer to learn more about the National Competition.

TIR: What can you tell us about the Mid-Atlantic Rowing Championships in May during which the Youth teams competed this year?

Zach Spitzer: We are very proud of the success our athletes had at USRowing Mid-Atlantic Championships this year! With 12 boats medaling, 7 winning regional titles, and 7 earning bids to race at USRowing Youth National Championships, it truly has been a group effort.

TIR: The USRowing National Competition will take place in Florida in less than a week. What can you tell us about this year’s National Competition?

ZS: This is the largest group of athletes the club has ever sent to the National Championships, with 22 Nereid athletes flying down to Sarasota next week to compete. Each year the team gets bigger and better, and we are excited to keep improving, and continue to make Nereid Boat Club a nationally known club. Our athletes are all about hard work and accountability, we can’t wait to see that pay off!

This is Rutherford interviewed each of the Rutherford athletes heading to Nationals in Sarasota.

JP Sprayberry

Name: JP Sprayberry

Age: 15

School: Bergen Tech

Years Rowing: 4

Event: U17 4x

Why do you enjoy rowing and Nereid? I’m so thankful for the Nereid Boat Club and how it has changed my life through rowing. One thing I love is the supportive group of people at the club who also enjoy rowing. We work together as a team and become good friends. They always encourage me and help me overcome challenges, making me believe in myself, and achieve more than I thought I could.

The club also has amazing coaches and facilities. The coaches are really experienced and teach me not only how to row better but also important qualities like hard work and never giving up. They have helped me improve my skills and fitness, and I’ve been able to compete at higher levels. The club gives me everything I need to succeed and reach my goals. I’m really grateful for the Nereid Boat Club because it has given me a special opportunity to pursue my love for rowing and has made me a better person overall.

Elliott Bullis

Name: Elliott Bullis

Age: 15

School: Academy of the Holy Angels

Years Rowing: 3 years

Event: Rowing U17 2x

Why do you enjoy rowing and Nereid? Nereid has helped me develop as a person; it has made me gritty, more energetic, and disciplined. Over my 3 years of rowing I have seen physical and mental changes in myself. I have made some of my closest friends here at Nereid. Nereid has helped me grow and become the best version of myself. To be given the opportunity to row at Nereid has been life changing and would like for other kids and adults to have to the experiences I have at Nereid.

Billy Bush

Name: Billy Bush

Age: 16

School: Rutherford High School

Years Rowing: 3

Event: U17 4X

Why do you enjoy rowing and Nereid? I enjoy rowing because it pushes me past my limits at all times. I have made friendships that will last forever with some of the boys. When you are testing your limit on the water with your teammates it creates bonds that are unbreakable.

Catherine Miguel-Rasteiro

Name: Catherine Miguel-Rasteiro

Age: 16

School: Rutherford High School

Years: 2 Years (1 year Rowing + 1 year Coxing)

Event: U17 4+ (4 rowers + me a coxswain, using the Sweeping Technique)

Past Accomplishments:

October 2022: I was part of the historic gold medal winning boat, (four-rowers + coxswain), representing the Nereid Boat Club in the world’s largest head race, the "Head of the Charles Regatta" Boston, MA,

Why do you enjoy Coxing and Nereid?

Right from when I walked through the doors on my first day I had been accepted into a big family. Where I was not only able to grow socially but mentally. Learning to push each other to their limits and also being able to push your own limits. Becoming an athlete into a sport so competitive and humbling at times allows you to view yourself from a bigger picture.

Rowing is teamwork at its peak, where each person in a boat mentally becomes one. The mental shift to having to adapt to any and every circumstance prepares you for what I believe is a bigger better future.

Coxing at Nereid has opened up new leadership skill in where I play a crucial role in motivating and inspiring rowers during a race or practice. I provide continuous feedback, offer encouragement, and help maintain the team's focus and determination.

My involvement within the boat, requires a deep understanding of the sport and the ability to make split-second decisions during a race. I need to read the water, assess the competition, and make strategic calls regarding race tactics, pacing, steering, along with individual calls, these tactical abilities will help me prepare for the future, as the challenges in life and in rowing seem to have many similarities.

Lastly being able to watch your team grow from day to day sharing the same flame of passion truly is the best experience anyone could ever ask on and off the water. For me joining Nereid has opened the gates for unbreakable bonds, discipline, teamwork, and inspiration that we all use to keep our boats afloat.

Romy McCarthy

Name: Romy McCarthy

Age: 17

School: Rutherford High School

Years Rowing: 6

Event: U19 Womens 4x

Why do you enjoy rowing and Nereid? Why I enjoy rowing itself would have to be how unique it is compared to other sports, although it is very distant from other sports, I would say it's definitely one of the most challenging sports. Personally, I'm someone who likes to challenge myself in plenty of ways and this sport really allows me to show that to others. Rowing itself is a water sport as many would know and I feel that the serenity of the water, the sound of the oars when you take a stroke, and the rhythm of rowing makes me really love rowing, having a deeper connection with myself and my surroundings. I would say it's a very big team sport, with lots of coordination, but what I enjoy most about this part is the shared goals, mutual support, and the drive and grit everyone has together brings a strong bond. Lastly, that feeling of winning a 2k race is beyond amazing compared to any other sport I've ever done, giving it your all in those 7 minutes you have and having that glorious feeling in you right after is something I enjoy.

Rowing for Nereid Boat Club has been one of the best decisions I've made for myself, I know I haven't been to any other boat club but I would never trade it for any other. The shared passion for rowing throughout the club is so strong, the teamwork and the supportive environment they've developed are astounding from when I first joined till now. The many achievements I've accomplished, with all the help from my coaches and teammates, I wouldn't have done it without them. Nereid is like a second family to me, I practically am there every day, and it's developed a close bond in my heart. This boathouse has given us many valuable lessons, with things I'll definitely use in the future, and has built up a way for me to express myself and be more confident with things.

Olivia Mendelsohn

Name: Olivia Mendelsohn

Age: 14

School: Union Middle School

Years Rowing: 2

Event: Womens U17 4+

Why do you enjoy rowing at Nereid? I enjoy rowing at Nereid because of the encouraging environment and the self-improvement that has come from rowing at Nereid.

I think that Nereid has made it to Youth Nationals because of the year-round effort that all members of the team, coaches and athletes alike have put into their goals, which in the end led to this opportunity.

I am most looking forward to the competitive environment that is bound to take place in Sarasota for Youth Nationals. Although my goal is to do well at Nationals, I realize that I share this objective with every other athlete who has qualified for this event. I am looking forward to competing with like-minded athletes and to learning what the scope of National competition is truly like.

The majority of the prep-work for Nationals took place through the entire year, a large portion being during the winter. Following the coaches’ training plan is the clearest path to achieving the best possible results. To mentally prepare, I just need to spend time every day focusing and visualizing what I need to do during the race to do my best.

Name: Ella Gill

Age: 16

School: Bergen Tech

Years Rowing: 2

Event: U17 4+

Why do you enjoy rowing and Nereid

Nereid has helped me with necessary life skills in more ways than I can say. Not only have I formed the best friendships, but I’ve also built up my physical and mental toughness, learned how to discipline myself, and improved my time management skills. Most importantly though, I’ve learned how to take care of my body, and appreciate what it can accomplish.

Name: Kemal Cengiz

Age: 17

School: Bergen Tech

Years Rowing: 3

Event: Youth 4x

Why do I enjoy rowing and Nereid?Rowing at Nereid has taught me discipline, hard work, and grit. Rowing for one of the top boat clubs in the country gives me honor to compete under Nereid, especially since I get to do it with my teammates, who are some of my best


Back row: Ella Gill, Billy Bush, JP Sprayberry, and Kemal Cengiz. Front row: Elliott Bullis, Olivia Mendelsohn, Catherine Miguel-Rasteira, and Romy McCarthy

724 views1 comment

1 Yorum

03 Haz 2023

Awesome! so happy to see these young athletes getting to experience a sport like this.

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