Sussex County Rowing Club - Sparta Rowing Club

Sussex County Rowing Club - Sparta Rowing Club has been slowly growing over the past 4 years.  We have recently received a generous donation with a fundraising challenge.

If we raise an additional $5000.00 by March 31st, 2019, the donor has pledged an additional $5000.00 matching donation.

Any donation will help make a difference. Thanks in advance for your contribution to this cause that means so much to me as well as to many of the Sparta High school kids who have been positively impacted by rowing.

Our Story

Rowing on Lake Mohawk has been an idea I’ve had ever since I saw Gerry Gregory carrying his rowing shell across East Shore Trail to Beach 2 in the 1980’s as I was riding the bus to Sparta High School.  I always thought it looked like something I’d like to try, but didn’t really know what it was, and there wasn’t anywhere to try it out.

I next saw rowing when I was at college in Philadelphia.  At the time University of Pennsylvania had one of the top crew programs in the country.  Again, I was interested, but I had committed to swimming for the university and never made the transition to the sport.

When I was in graduate school I almost made it into a rowing shell.  I met the boatman (the guy who takes care of all the boats) for Cornell University while ski patrolling, and although we tried to make arrangements to get me into a shell that spring, it never worked out.

After getting married in 1997, and while watching the 2000 summer Olympics, I told my wife how much I had wished I had been able to try rowing.  That winter she bought me a Concept2 indoor rowing machine. In 2002, a year after having my son, Finn, I got in touch with a coach at the USRowng national team in Princeton.  She was kind enough to finally get me in a racing shell.  I fell in love with the sport instantly.  After another session I was able to purchase a used shell.  I was finally able to start rowing on Lake Mohawk.

I started training and competing in regattas from Delaware to Boston, MA, placing second in the grandaddy of US regattas, The Head of the Charles, for the club Men’s Single Scull in 2007, and winning my age group at the Master’s World Championship in Princeton, NJ in 2006.


I introduced the sport to my father, who decided he also wanted to try it after seeing me race.  We were able to race a double scull together at the Head of the Charles for a charity event.


My son Finn had enthusiastically tried many sports;  soccer, baseball, lacrosse, tennis, martial arts, cycling, running and swimming.  He participated and had fun but none of them really “took”.  When I introduced him to rowing on Lake Mohawk in the summer of 2013, it was like he was struck by lightening.  When we came off the water after the first day he asked me “Where can I do this?  I want to do this!  Does the high school have this?”.  When I asked him why he was so excited, he responded “Nothing has ever made me feel like this. It makes everything feel good!”  It was then that we started our quest to start our rowing club.

Finn began training with me in the double and we occasionally traveled to a reservoir almost an hour away, where a club allowed us to put Finn in  the right size single for him.

In 2014 he was able to enter his first major regatta, the Head of the Schuylkill, a 2 1/2 mile long race in Philadelphia.  


When Finn started at Sparta High School, he began working on establishing a rowing club.  He started entering regattas in the spring of 2016, rowing independently, but as a student of Sparta High School.  In 2017, Finn was able to represent Sparta High School at several scholastic regattas, also in Philadelphia, a city which he began to love.


 In 2017, the Sparta High School Board of Ed approved the Sparta Rowing Club.  In the spring of 2018 our club began training on 5 rowing machines (ergometers or “ergs") that had been granted to the Sparta High School Physical Education Department by the Sparta Education Foundation (SEF).  In the spring of 2018 the SEF granted an additional 10 ergs to Sparta High School.

In the spring of 2018, the Sparta Rowing Club was able to have our first training on Lake Mohawk rowing out of Sleepy Lagoon Beach in two quads donated by the Isak Anderson Memorial Fund to the rowing club.  Because it was reminiscent of what my son said to me after his first day of rowing, my favorite quote from one of my first year, freshman rowers last spring after our first on the water practice was “That was a life altering experience!”


Our goal and mission is to create more “Life altering experiences”, and to teach teamwork, to inspire dedication, drive and devotion to one’s crew, to each other, to our community, and to ourselves.

The rowing club has had an impact beyond our club.  Thanks to the work of the rowing club and the Sparta Education Foundation, another group of students at Sparta High School were able to try a new sport.  Four students from Sparta High School represented Sparta High School in the Special Olympics for the first time in rowing on the indoor rowing machine at the CRASH-P's in Princeton thanks to the work of Jennifer Schock, Tina Johnson & Monica Wall, Sparta High School Special Olympics Rowing Coaches.


Thanks for taking the time to read this. We appreciate your support, enthusiasm and any help you can give to this fledgling endeavor.

In the fall of 2018, Finn was accepted into his top 2 college choices; Drexel  and Temple Universities in Philadelphia, having been recruited by both rowing programs.  Both universities are Division I NCAA schools. He has decided to commit to rowing for Drexel University in the fall of 2019.


P.S. - Finn’s first sculling blades (oars) were donated to Finn by Michael Gregory, Sparta Middle School’s Principal, upon the passing of his uncle Gerry Gregory.  Just a continuance in this circular saga...

Donations (0)

  • Eric Lindquist 
    • $500 
    • 5 mos
  • Buddy Al-Aydi 
    • $20 
    • 5 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $40 
    • 5 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $600 
    • 5 mos
  • Alfons Minko 
    • $50 
    • 5 mos

Fundraising team (4) 

Tim Holovacs 
Raised $1,225 from 12 donations
Sparta, NJ
Sussex County Rowing Club 
Registered nonprofit
Donations are 100% tax deductible.
Learn more
Olivia Aguila-Perez 
Team member
Raised $220 from 4 donations
Finn Holovacs 
Team member
Raised $50 from 1 donation
Kyle Neuwirth 
Team member
This team raised $3,605 from 26 other donations.
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