Kearny girls’ crew: Keeping a winning tradition

Veteran Kearny High School girls’ crew coach Dave Paszkiewicz knew that his lightweight four boat was good enough to qualify for the Scholastic Rowing Association of America’s National Championship Regatta.

There was only one problem.

“When we were set to qualify at the regional qualifier on the Cooper River (in Camden County, N.J.), there was a dredging project going on, so we didn’t race,” Paszkiewicz said. “But based on our previous record, we could write a petition to see if we could get in.”

Paszkiewicz said that the Kearny lightweight four competed in similarly competitive regattas in Virginia and New Jersey and fared well.

“We raced in Virginia and beat a finalist,” Paszkiewicz said. “I thought we had a strong enough resume to get in. It was a strong petition.”

Paszkiewicz also mentioned the team’s performance at the recent Stotesbury Cup Regatta.

“We took fourth, but we were 16 seconds out of first,” Paszkiewicz said. “We made it to the finals.”

Sure enough, the race organizers decided to allow the Kearny boat into the national championship regatta.

The boat of Isabella Martins, Lara Esteves, Ashley Richard and Jessica Cavalier, with Tiana Rodriguez as the coxswain, headed to the nationals, held on Dillon Lake in Nashport, Ohio last weekend.

And lo and behold, the Kearny team finished third in the nation among lightweight fours.

Not bad for a team that almost didn’t even get there.

The team had to face another slice of adversity before the regatta last weekend. One of the regular rowers could not attend, so that left the door open for Martins, a junior, to slide in.

“We had to make changes for the nationals,” Paszkiewicz said. “We put Isabella in the boat and that stroke is like the pitcher in baseball or the quarterback in football. But it was a good move for us, because it put us clearly in third place.”

Mount St. Joseph of Pennsylvania was the winner of the race, but only by two seconds. Absegami of New Jersey was second.

“It meant we made up 14 seconds from the week before and I attribute that to Isabella,” Paszkiewicz said.

Paszkiewicz said that Rodriguez just learned the ins and outs of being a top coxswain.

“I just taught her last spring,” Paszkiewicz said. “She’s really still a novice. She was a rower that showed up too late last year, so she ended up being in the boat as a coxswain.”

The third place finish at the SRAA’s National Championships was the highest placing for a Kearny boat since finishing second in 2009. Kearny last won a national title in 2004.

Kearny was third in 2008, so there was improvement from one year to the next.

“It had been a while,” Paszkiewicz said.

What makes the occupants of the boat even more special is the fact that only Cavalier graduates. The other four return. Cavalier received a scholarship to row at Nova Southeastern in Florida.

“All the other girls are coming back,” Paszkiewicz said. “The only problem is that they raced in a 15-year-old boat. We hope to have a lighter boat for this team next year, so we expect better results.”

Paszkiewicz said that crew boats tend to “lose their stiffness,” according to Paszkiewicz, over a period of time.

“The boats last pretty long, but the top teams tend to turn their boats over, because it’s important to have a stiffer boat,” Paszkiewicz said. “So a lot of the energy of the rowers is spent rowing a boat that is less superior.”

Paszkiewicz said that there are already fundraisers planned to help purchase a new boat. Since crew is not considered a varsity sport, most of the equipment has to be bought via outside contributions.

Nothing will take away from the bronze-medal winning performance at the national regatta.

“It’s a huge accomplishment,” Paszkiewicz said. “It’s a credit to the girls themselves. They had the ability to work through those last-minute changes and showed the maturity to work through it. Another crew might have crumbled under the weight of the pressure, but these girls persevered and thrived.”

Paszkiewicz said that his team wasn’t going to rest on its laurels and it was back in the boat and on the Passaic River Monday.

“Most of these girls are now rowing all year round,” Paszkiewicz said. “It’s a huge commitment to be a member of crew. I’m very proud of them and their accomplishments.”
Paszkiewicz gave credit to novice coach Chris McShane and volunteer assistants Dan McShane and Dave Paszkiewicz, Jr., the coach’s son, for their help in bringing home prestige to Kearny.


It was a third place finish for the Kearny girls’ lightweight four at the National Championship Regatta in Ohio last week. Pictured from left are assistant coach Dan Mc Shane, Isabella Martins, Lara Esteves, Ashley Richard, Jessica Cavalier, Tiana Rodriguez, assistant coach David Paszkiewicz, Jr., and head coach David Paszkiewicz. Photo courtesy of David Paszkiewicz

It was time to take a dip in Dillon Lake after taking third in the National Rowing Regatta. From left are Isabella Martins, Lara Esteves, Tiana Rodriguez, Ashley Richard and Jessica Cavalier. Photo courtesy of David Paszkiewicz

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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”