In September 2023, New Orleans Rowing Club (NORC) and Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA) partnered to launch the Xavier Rowing Club (XRC) program, becoming only the second of its kind at a Historically Black College or University (HBCU). The initiative is currently led by NORC members Elizabeth Manley, professor of history and chair of the History Department at Xavier, and Chloé Jobin, Xavier’s corporate and foundations coordinator. Over the past months, more than a dozen enthusiastic Xavier students with no previous rowing experience have learned the fundamentals of the sport on the waters of Bayou St. John and at the NORC indoor rowing facility under the guidance of NORC coaches. The team is eager to continue to train this season with a group of capable and eager novice rowers, and they hope to race in fours or eights in the spring.

We believe that this effort will contribute to creating a more diverse and inclusive rowing culture in New Orleans and nationally while also providing Xavier students with greater opportunity for personal growth, leadership development, and physical fitness." -Elizabeth Manley, XRC Coach and Team JL Ambassador



The program aims to advance the strategic plan of USRowing, raising awareness of the sport while building diversity, eliminating barriers, and upending presumptions and unjust realities in rowing. Elizabeth and Chloé have been working to collaborate with the spaces of diversity that currently exist in rowing, including Rowing in Color and A Most Beautiful Thing, detail the ways the sport is changing for the better, and encourage athletes that their presence has the power to move the sport toward a more diverse and inclusive community. Over the next several years, the partners hope to establish a fully self-sustaining club. In the interim, NORC will provide the necessary infrastructure and coaching support to power the program.

Xavier Rowing Club opened doors for me to embrace new experiences and ignited an unexpected passion within me. The camaraderie fostered by the coaches and friends I’ve encountered has been truly remarkable. The support and guidance from NORC have significantly enriched my journey. Their patient and knowledgeable coaches ensure I feel secure and calm on the water. Participating in a sport not commonly found in HBCUs fills me with a sense of being part of a movement, marking the start of an incredible journey." -Taylor Kentish, freshman at Xavier and member of XRC

In January, XULA, in partnership with NORC, and BLJ Community Rowing hosted the inaugural XRC season kickoff and community event. With over fifty attendees, the event showcased the newly formed XRC program and the dozen young women who have been building the program through the fall. Special guests included the founder of BLJ Rowing, the first African American owned and operated rowing organization in the country, Brannon Johnson; two-time Olympian David Banks; and Waco Rowing Center Head Coach Marqus Brown. XRC also welcomed members of the Xavier student body, administration, staff, and faculty, and were pleased to include Council Member Eugene Green and Hancock Whitney Vice President, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager Jacob Evans in the event. Several dozen Xavier students and community members learned to row and got out in boats on the bayou for the first time, and members of the NORC Juniors and Masters’ programs stepped in to assist with the lessons. 

JL Racing is excited to welcome XRC to the rowing community, and we are honored to extend our support, helping to champion diversity and inclusion in the rowing community. We are thrilled to sponsor the athletes with trou, custom racing tops, and custom visors so that they can rep their team proudly this spring racing season. We look forward to seeing these athletes grow as individuals and as a team!

For more information about the development of the historic Xavier Rowing program, please visit the Xavier University website. You can follow along on XRC's journey by following their Instagram.


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