The new look for the University of Louisville oars, replacing the Old English L's (UofL photos).

New oars in the water for UofL rowing team

The UofL rowing team is replacing the red oars with white ones bearing the Cardinal logo.

A person is only as good as their tools, and perhaps no tool is more important to the University of Louisville rowing team as their oars. That’s why the Cardinals’ coaching staff took it upon itself to give the team a flashy upgrade in the form of newly-designed oars to reflect a new era of Louisville rowing.

“It’s pretty big,” said UofL rowing head coach Derek Copeland. “It’s kind of how you’re recognized, really, even more so than the uniform. It’s a little bit like what helmets are to football. It is how you recognize a team, especially from far away.”

The coaching staff said that the change was a long time coming and something that had been discussed for a good while before finally pulling the trigger on the project. It’s only the third time the oars have been redesigned since rowing became a varsity sport at UofL 20 years ago. The 2019-20 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new attitude has formed in the program, one that the coaching staff wanted to reflect in a new look, starting with new oar blades, replacing the red primer and the gothic L logo with a bold, all-white look featuring the head of Louie the Cardinal front and center.

“The team has done a great job the past year and half or two years just re-establishing what it truly means to be a Louisville Cardinal rower,” said UofL assistant coach Samantha Sarff. “The attitude that goes along with (being a UofL rower), the intent, the purpose, the intensity at practice. They’ve done a really good job elevating off of that and their performance, so we wanted the look to reflect that.”

Because the Ohio River is not safe for competition, UofL’s home site is 240 miles south at Melton Lake in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The lake was once used as an Olympic training site. The Cardinals will host an eight-team regatta, March 13-14. UofL will also participate in the Big 10 Invitational at the same location April 10-11.

The 2020-21 schedule:

Feb. 19-20 at SMU, Dallas
Mar. 3-7 at Spring Training Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Mar. 13-14 Oak Ridge Cardinal Invite Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Mar. 27 vs. Notre Dame Indianapolis, Ind.
April 10-11 B1G Invitational Oak Ridge, Tenn.
May 1-2 at Michigan Ann Arbor, Mich
May 14-15 ACC Championships Clemson, SC
May 28-30 at NCAA Post-Season

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Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.