I've always considered rowing to be the perfect high school sport.
Athletic prowess helps but isn't necessary. Height and weight don't really matter. Neither does experience. It seems that as long as a boy or girl is willing to devote the time and energy to learn how to use an oar - or yell at those who do - there is a place for him or her in a crew program, whether it be in the varsity eight or the novice four.
Rowing also strikes me as the ultimate team sport. That boat isn't going to move unless its members develop the necessary chemistry and cohesiveness.
That's also the case when the boat is out of the water.
The Cedar Creek High School boys junior varsity four glided along Lake Lenape during last weekend's Atlantic County Rowing Championships.
Halfway through the 1,500-meter race, forearms began to cramp and shoulders began to ache.
Coxswain Kristin Flaherty knew exactly what to say.
"C'mon guys!" she shouted. "Do it for Logan!"
The four rowers - stroke David White, David Disbrow, Kyle Capaldi, bow Finn-Lukas Friemuth - picked up the pace.
The Pirates crossed the line in 5 minutes, 42.70 seconds to beat St. Augustine Prep and Egg Harbor Township. They each dropped their oars and slumped forward in exhaustion while Flaherty smiled.
About 50 miles away, at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Logan DeAngelis has been waging a valiant battle against brain cancer.
A 17-year-old former soccer player at Cedar Creek, the Green Bank resident was diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma brain cancer in August, 2013. After undergoing surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, his tumor remained stable for 18 months and he was able to return to classes at Cedar Creek last fall on a part-time basis.
The family did a lot together during that time, taking in Phillies and Eagles games, and going to Hawaii as part of the "Make A Wish" Foundation. Logan even went elk hunting in Texas with "Hunt of a Lifetime."
Ten weeks ago, tests revealed that the tumor was growing.
"He's had five surgeries this time," Logan's mother, Tina DeAngelis, said. "It's been really tough. The first time was a walk in the park compared to this. He was doing better and was actually supposed to come home a few days ago, but he developed pneumonia in his right lung. He also has gastritis and is bleeding in his stomach from the steroids and feeding tube.
"It's so weird. He just can't seem to catch a break. But Logan is very strong and he'll keep fighting."
The entire Cedar Creek crew program and the nearby communities have offered emotional and financial support. The Elwood Volunteer Fire Company in Mullica Township, where Logan went to middle school, raised money last October through its William Kennedy Memorial Golf Tournament at Mays Landing Country Club.
The Green Bank Fire Company hosted a pig roast benefit for Logan on May 1 and gave the DeAngelis family special bracelets designed by Logan's cousin, Mike Luko. Luko also sells the bracelets and donates the proceeds to the DeAngelis family.
Logan was not a member of the crew team at Cedar Creek, but several of the Pirates' rowers, including the boys JV four boat, were either his classmates or on the soccer team with him.
"We've been friends since our freshman year," said Flaherty, who is a junior. "He's a very nice guy, fun-loving, happy and very strong both physically and mentally."
The Pirates, with the help of coach Mike Simons and parents such as Kelly Capaldi, have also been doing their part to provide support.
Cedar Creek's novice girls four boat designed gray T-shirts with "Logan Strong" on them and sold them at the Atlantic County regatta. They made $59 and donated the money to Logan.
"We're just trying to do as much as we can for Logan," Kelly Capaldi said. "But what we've done is nothing compared to his sister."
Logan's older sister, Ashleigh, has been with him for every step of his arduous journey.
Ashleigh, 19, missed her senior year at Cedar Creek in 2013-14 to help care for him. She was home schooled between almost daily trips to CHOP, which she has continued during his relapse, and has kept the Cedar Creek High School and Green Bank communities updated with posts on the Facebook page "Fighting With Logan."
"We have 3 choices in life," Ashleigh wrote on May 9 while posing with Logan, who was wearing a Phillies shirt. "Give up, give in or give it all you've got. Logan's choice is obvious."
A day earlier, she urged everyone to "go grey for a day in May for Logan and everyone else who has a brain tumor." Logan sported a grey ski cap and was covered with an Eagles blanket.
Last May, she went to her senior prom at Cedar Creek.
Logan was her date.
After the race was over, Cedar Creek's JV four pulled on their "Logan Strong" T-shirts over their green-and-gold singlets along with wristbands that sported the same logo and headed over to the beach for the awards ceremony.
They all posed for pictures with their trophy, then returned to the other side of Lake Lenape to carry the boat.
On the bottom of the boat, there is the design created by Luko.
It says, "Logan Strong."
With the permission of the Cedar Creek's Board of Education, the Pirates have decided to name their boat in Logan's honor. They will officially declare it "Logan Strong" during the team banquet at end of the season, and they are hoping he will be there to see it.
In the meantime, they will remember him the best way they know how.
"I always say, 'Do it for Logan' at least once a race," Flaherty said. "When I remind them of Logan, it motivates them and makes them pull harder."
Like I said, crew is a team sport.
In and out of the water.
Contact David Weinberg:
@PressACWeinberg on Twitter
has been a member of The Press sports department since 1986. Currently he's in his 22nd season as the Eagles beat writer and also covers boxing, mixed martial arts and various other sports. This column, which appears twice a week, is his opinion.