Antonia Ginsberg-Klemmt lives to row; it has been her athletic passion since seventh grade. So when the current second-year student first decided to attend New College, she faced a conundrum: there was no crew on campus.
Never one to be deterred, Ginsberg-Klemmt would not let one little drawback derail her decision to go to her dream college. She would just have to change the landscape (or the seascape, in her case). And she would do it deftly and quickly.
“I grew up in Sarasota, which is the rowing capital of the U.S., and I was set on rowing in college. But I ended up getting a full ride to New College and I thought, ‘I’m going to go to a college that doesn’t have rowing. I guess I’ll just have to start a rowing team there,’” said Ginsberg-Klemmt, who is studying applied physics with a focus on marine engineering. “You can’t be near a world-class rowing facility [Nathan Benderson Park] and not have a collegiate rowing team.”
In September 2019, Ginsberg-Klemmt started raising money to launch her own team, asking for donations via GoFundMe, Facebook and her immediate family.
“I raised $2,000 and my dad matched it, so I ended up with $4,000 (enough to fund carbon-fiber racing shells, each seating four rowers and one coxswain),” she said.
Because of Ginsberg-Klemmt’s resourcefulness and tenacity, New Crew was born. It is now a Cross College Alliance (CCA) team that is open to students from New College, the University of South Florida (USF) Sarasota-Manatee, State College of Florida (SCF) and Ringling College of Art & Design.
On February 29 in Gainesville, New Crew took part in its first race, a regatta called “Duel in the Swamp” with students from USF, SCF, the University of Florida (UF), Florida State University (FSU) and the University of Central Florida (UCF). Together, Ginsberg-Klemmt, New College first-years Ash Howland and Nicole McKenna, as well as UF student Dina Lutz and SCF student Romy Roberts, came in fourth place.
“It was super exciting and everyone was so supportive. It was a fantastic experience,” Ginsberg-Klemmt said. “We wore our New College shirts. It was really wholesome.”
Ginsberg-Klemmt welcomes athletes of all levels to register for New Crew, as she is not intimidated by having to teach (she has been coaching and competing for years). In 2018, for example, she represented Sarasota Crew in the women’s lightweight 8+ at the Youth National Rowing Championships in Sacramento, Calif., and placed first in the C final, setting her at 13th overall in the nation. She even fixes and refurbishes her own boats.
“It doesn’t matter what your background is or if you’re having a stressful day, you can just let that out on the water and focus on rowing for one or two hours,” Ginsberg-Klemmt said. “I’m more productive when I go rowing because it helps me manage my time more.”
The sport feeds right into Ginsberg-Klemmt’s academic interests, which are predominantly marine engineering-based. She is deeply interested in hydrodynamics and green energy, and has even considered what it would take to generate power through rowing.
And though Ginsberg-Klemmt continues to face the multiple hurdles that come with launching a rowing team, she has found satisfaction in the challenge. Her vision has already inspired many.
Amy Reid, professor of French and gender studies (one of Ginsberg-Klemmt’s teachers and an avid rower herself), is New Crew’s sponsor.
“I’m so impressed by what this small group of students, under the leadership of Toni, has accomplished,” Reid said. “Sarasota is a great place for rowing (beautiful water, both on the bay and at Benderson Park), and I have long thought it would be a good fit for the New College ethos—a group of people working together, no stars, just coordinated cooperation. At its best, it’s meditative. I look forward to seeing the team on the water and cheering them on.”
To get involved in New Crew, call 941-284-9175 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abby Weingarten is the editor/writer in the Office of Communications & Marketing.