Meet Rice University's rowing team

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- There's a new kind of boat on Buffalo Bayou and the Rice University Rowing Club hopes you'll take notice.

Even before the sun comes up, illuminating Houston's skyline, Rice's Crew Team is already out and rigging their boats.

"It's a large commitment," said Coach Mike Matson, a former rower for the US Naval Academy.

Practice starts at 5:30am, five days a week so they can be on the water by 6am and that's a luxury.

They used to have to drive to Clear Lake to practice.

"We were looking at 30-45 minutes each way," Matson said.

Now they row on Buffalo Bayou and launch just east of downtown.

"Initially it was a little scary," added Coach David Alviar, a former rower at the Univerisity of Texas.

Two shipping are their "boathouse" and the dock is basic, but they are thrilled.

"It's calm. It's protected. We're the only ones out there so we kind of own the entire." Alviar told Eyewitness News.

It's a huge step forward for the team as it hopes for growth from a mere two members four years ago to 20 now. They hope also hope visibility helps garner interest beyond the Rice campus.

"I would love to see a permanent installation, whether it's backed by private funding or backed by Rice...just something that's there so that the public can make use of it," said Alviar.

For coaches Matson and Alviar, this is almost like a second job instilling their love for the lesser-known sport-one that combines strength and finesse- in others.

"it's a great team sport," said Freshman Ian Baker.

"We have the run of the water. It's fantastic," added Senior Thanasis Kouris.

They hope the close proximity and the scenery helps.

Rice University supports the team with some funding, but there's always a need for more. If you're interested, click on for more information.

The coaches will embark on a 27,000 mile row across the Atlantic next year to raise awareness as well as funds.
Copyright © 2019 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.