Space Coast Crew honors five seniors who will row in college


Space Coast Crew seniors (from l-r) Matt Olinde, Emily Eastwood, Tanner Mathews, Karly Smith and Mason Yaskovic were honored last week in a ceremony where they all signed to row at the collegiate level.

VIERA VOICE Courtesy Kelly ippolito

The Space Coast Crew has already proven itself to be quite successful on the water.

But as last week’s national signing day ceremony proved, it’s pretty good at helping its members get the chance to compete in college as well.

Five members of the SCC program were honored as they signed their National Letters of Intent to attend schools both close to home, and on the other side of the country.

Emily Eastwood (West Shore) and Karly Smith (Satellite) both signed with UCF. Matt Olinde (Holy Trinity) and Mason Yaskovic (Edgewood) signed with Florida Tech and Tanner Mathews (Cocoa Beach) is heading to Oregon State.

“We have a really small senior class this year,” said SCC Director of Rowing/Men’s coach Bryan Little.

“We have six seniors on the team and of the six, five are signing with colleges. That’s an extraordinary thing. They’re athletes who have been determined. They’ve been focused. They’ve succeeded at everything they’ve put their minds to.

“The two girls who are signing with UCF, that’s a huge deal for this program. We should be a giant pipeline to the University of Central Florida, being that it’s in our backyard, basically. It’s a great women’s program that is becoming dominant within its conference and is working its way up in the NCAA.”

Formed in 1996, the SCC has more than 100 rowers in grades 7-12 who come from all over Brevard County.

Signing days, like this recent one, help the program in a number of ways.

“It helps us recruit better,” Little said. “It also helps us to let the know the community that we exist. The kids have been out here six days a week this spring, putting in 2 ½ hours of practice every day.

“They’ve probably put in several hundreds of hours of training and execution at a high level.”

Little, who took over the program last July, has quite a run of success to build on. The Space Coast Crew has won six straight Brevard Cup Championships and will begin its chase for the nationals next week.

The districts will be held April 6 in Fellsmere, followed by the state championships, which are set for April 27-28 in Sarasota. The Southeast Regional is May 11-12 in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and the nationals are scheduled for June 7-9, also in Sarasota.

As the Space Coast Crew prepares for its biggest challenges of the year, Little said the work of this year’s senior class has been a great example for the other rowers.

“We’ve got a young team and these seniors have really led the men’s team,” Little said. “It’s the same on the women’s side. They’ve been leaders. They’ve been able to keep the team together, keep the team striving for those really tall goals.”