Lakewood Ranch Herald

Southeast crew gets by with a little help

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- With live music playing behind them, excited members of Southeast High School’s new scholastic rowing team posed Sunday night for their first ever team picture.

The students were among more than 200 attending “Bach to the Beatles,” a fund-raiser at the Polo Grill on Main Street in Lakewood Ranch.

The fundraiser was held to support the Seminole crew, preparing for its first competition at the Novice Regatta in Orlando in February.

Although the school board of Manatee County has allotted $30,000 seed money for the new crew programs at Southeast, Manatee and Palmetto high schools, additional funds are needed, said Trish Jackson, head coach of Southeast rowing.

Sunday’s live performance, featuring pianist Eleanora Lvov and Robin Skinner, lead singer of the Glass Onion Beatles tribute band, raised $6,255, said Susan Kulbersh, a Southeast parent who got the crew program started.

The money will go toward purchase of a simulated rowing machine, a set of aluminum “blades” for rowing and expenses for the trip to Orlando, Kulbersh said.

One of Jackson’s assistant coaches, Lakewood Ranch lawyer John Reichner, has already donated a pair of electronic “cox boxes” that cost $900 each, Jackson said.

The team also has two used shells, both an eight-man and four-man.

“I think the most inspirational thing was to see the number of people who came out to support the effort,” Kulbersh said.

Allison Heitner, whose son, Landon, 16, is a junior on the crew, organized the fundraiser and contributed her talent as a graphic designer. Heitner, who owns Gecko Graphics of Lakewood Ranch, designed posters, cards, tickets, T-shirts and banners.

Other crew moms like Denise Nimz and Susan Wolfson, helped with the raffle or sold tickets, Heitner said.

The key to getting the classy entertainment was Robin Skinner himself, who is a Southeast High graduate.

“Robin introduced us to his girlfriend, Eleanora, who is a piano virtuoso and everything fell into place,” Heitner said.

Raffles, door prizes and menu items with rowing names, like hull minced chix and lettuce cups, coxin crispy fried chicken, keel chicken quesadillas and sculler shrimp cocktail were part of the fun.

“The training is unbelievable,” said Coral Nimz, 16, a junior member of the rowing team, which works out four days a week and Saturday at Fort Hamer Park. “We do 400 jump squats and push-ups and that is just the warm-up. Rowing works the entire body. It’s awesome.”

Anyone who would like to donate experience or dollars to the new Southeast crew is eagerly invited call Heitner at 941-730-6123 or Kulbersh at 941-518-1191.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.