As my husband and I listened to our oldest, 17 year-old Katherine, describe the conversations between the nine girls in her boat before a big race, we realized how the sport of rowing gives Katherine life lessons beyond just going fast on the water and great physical fitness.
She also learns what you can accomplish when you work together as a team. “You’re only as strong as your weakest link,” says Katherine, a rising Pope High School senior and varsity rower for Atlanta Junior Rowing Association (AJRA) in Roswell. Katherine knows that she has to do everything she can to strengthen and support her team mates because that is how they win.
Imagine where kids can take those lessons beyond rowing – from job responsibilities to school to personal relationships?
Top tier universities understand that, too. Often, if a school has a rowing team and understands the sport, they’ll take a student who rows before they’ll take a student with the same grades who doesn’t. Top universities also often offer scholarships to rowers. And with former teammates attending such schools as Georgia Tech, Princeton, Yale, University of Tennessee, Clemson and others, the kids easily see the rewards of strong academics so most rowers usually learn to manage their time and get good grades too.
Rowing is tough and it’s not for everyone, but you won’t know unless you try it. As a member of the varsity team, Katherine usually rows six days a week during the fall and spring seasons besides working out during off seasons. Yet when not on the water, she misses it. Her teammates are some of her best friends. And she still finds time for other high school clubs and activities besides taking the summer off to vacation, working as a lifeguard, and volunteering, so she doesn’t feel like she’s missing out on anything.
It’s funny, I love rowing too. Because regattas (rowing competitions) are usually day-long events, parents have time to socialize, eat, read and of course volunteer. Since AJRA provides meals and snacks for rowers, my favorite volunteer job is running the regatta food tent with a team of parents and getting to know rowers, coaches and parents. In the end, it’s like we’re all just one big family taking care of our kids.
We’re so lucky here in East Cobb because AJRA’s boathouse is only about ten minutes away on Azalea Drive in Roswell. It’s easy to sign-up. Just go to www.ajracrew.com. Fall season for Novice and Varsity rowers begins in August for high school freshmen through senior. No experience is necessary for Novice. Coaches will teach kids all they need to know besides getting them into great physical shape. Middle school students can learn rowing too with AJRA’s developmental programs. With AJRA’s fall racing season, I don’t know of a better way to enjoy a beautiful fall in Georgia!
(Written by East Cobber, Barbara Cheng.)