When Aimee joined SRA she was part way through her weight loss journey. Prior to joining she estimates she lost about 60 pounds, but knew she had a long way to go. She hasn’t reached her goal weight yet, but mentioned that her peak weight loss was 120 pounds. Woolwine has been close to her goal, but a rough year has slightly set her back. She lost her mother a year ago, and also went through her surgery this year to repair severe cartilage damage. “One of the things that rowing has taught me is that I can do hard things. I was never a person who did difficult things if they were difficult for me,” Woolwine said when reflecting on her weight loss. “I can do hard things, and it’s worth doing hard things. I know I will get to my goal weight some day.”
Woolwine, now a Wellness Coach for Weight Watchers (WW), had so much insight on health and wellness to share. She attributes most of her weight loss to a healthier diet, but acknowledged the role that physical activity and rowing played in her weight loss journey. “The benefits to being fit, never having been fit in my life before, I can tell you that having my knee surgery when I was 22 and my surgery now- being fit and strong and flexible makes recovery so much easier.”
“The absolute greatest gift that rowing has given me is a new vision for aging.” Woolwine began to focus on her mid-morning crewmates more. “Until this last year I’ve been the youngest mid-morning rower. I’m rowing with women who are 20-30 years older than I am. I lost all of my grandparents very young. They had been ill for a long time, so before rowing, that was my primary example of aging - ill, limited mobility. Now I have a different idea of what being older can look like.”SRA has a wide range of ages of rowers ranging from middle school children to adults in their 70s. It was inspirational for Woolwine to see the rowers from the mid-morning team living and leading healthy, strong, and competitive lifestyles.
“It makes aging exciting rather than scary,” Woolwine said about continuing rowing. She noted that if she can get in a boat and hold an oar at the age of 70 she would count that as a victory! Woolwine just wants to continue moving. She made it clear that she wants to live a life of meaning and purpose. “I want to be mobile, but not just be mobile, I want to enjoy moving.” She has seen the difficulties that can come with aging contrasted against active older lifestyles that are full of fun, vibrancy, and energy. Seeing those two sides - mobile and immobile, healthy and unhealthy, active and inactive - has motivated Woolwine to pursue a life in motion.
Support also comes from her mid-morning teammates. “They are amazing. When my husband had to go out of town on my fortieth birthday for work- I celebrated with the team. We all went out to lunch.” Woolwine didn’t expect anything, but she was showered with gifts. When her mother died, her team was there for her. After her surgery her teammates visited and offered meals. She refers to her mid-morning team as her family.
Woolwine has learned a lot of lessons from rowing and weight loss. “It took external validation. The first coach who actually said to me that I could make the Charles boat one of these days if I worked hard enough was Kara.” Kara planted the seeds of motivation in the back of Woolwine’s mind. That belief in her ability made Woolwine realize that she could achieve any goal she set her mind to. She said her goal used to be going to the Charles to cheer on teammates. Instead she went to the Charles in 2016 and 2017 as a competitor and placed top ten both times.
Being a teammate has given Woolwine a sense of responsibility. She finds it easier to stick to her goals with a team motivating her and also counting on her at practices. She said her favorite memory was her entire 2016 season. That year her boat won Tail of the Lake, placed top ten at the Head of the Charles, and they won Head of the Lake. The camaraderie and success of that team during that head-racing season was an incredible experience for Woolwine, and the first time that she accepted the label of “athlete” in reference to herself.
As a Wellness Coach, and someone who has gone through an incredible health and wellness journey, Woolwine had some advice for others. “When you are trying to improve your health and wellness, you can’t change everything at once. It comes down to two things. It comes down to changing a lot of little habits and letting that build up over time. The other thing is that it is all about what is going on above the neck.” For Woolwine, physical and mental health are equally important. She preaches the importance of mental fortitude and belief in oneself. “You will fail over and over and over and over. The only true path to success is failure. If you expect yourself to be perfect you will be disappointed on a regular basis. True success is humbling”.
“Head of the Charles 2019- I want it,” Woolwine said with that competitive tone in her voice. Aimee has gone through an incredible journey. One that has made her a different person than the one she was 10 years ago. She went from being overweight with limited athletics in her life to being a strong, healthy, decorated athlete at SRA. Her journey has given her an incredible group of friends in the rowing community, a new understanding of health, and an ability to chase down her goals. She, like many of our rowers, is truly discovering her unbounded potential.
Over the years, rowers log thousands of meters on the water. This year, Sammamish Rowing Association rower Jan Schelter logged thousands of miles on land, completing all 2,652 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. Stretching from Mexico to Canada, the Pacific Crest Trail is a legendary wilderness path made famous in part by the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Every year “thru hikers” spend several months covering every single one of those miles. Jan Schelter was one of those thru hikers this year.
Eager to hear about Schelter’s recent journey on the PCT I jumped right into asking her about the endeavor. “I was mostly a northbound hiker,” she said. Thru hikers typically go from Mexico to Canada making them north bond hikers (NOBOs), but some choose to go from Canada to Mexico making them southbound hikers (SOBOs). “We started April 18th, and I finished October 9th.” Schelter had a partner who was with her for most of the journey, but had left the trail around Crater Lake about 2-3 weeks earlier of when Schelter finished. I was curious if hiking alone made her scared. “Culture tells me I’m supposed to be scared, but I wasn’t. I had no reason to be.”
While the end of her thru hike was quiet and free of too many hikers, Schelter said it was in stark contrast to the beginning of her trip when there were crowds of people. “Fifty people start a day. You have to get a long-distance permit, which was instituted to spread people out. There used to be hundreds of people starting every day.” Schelter agreed that the increased popularity of hiking the PCT could be partially attributed to the publishing of the book Wild that she compared to the rising popularity of rowing after the book The Boys in the Boat was published.
Thru hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail often give trail names to fellow hikers, based on defining characteristics or trail moments. Schelter’s trail name was Neon- given to her because of the high viz neon rowing hat she wore every day to honor her rowing friends. Her now sun-bleached rowing hat also resulted in a chance meeting of another rower who knows a member of the 5am team - alas - the small world of rowing.
Support came from not only friends and family, but strangers as well. Along her PCT journey, Jan met many “trail angels”- people who help thru-hiker’s with food, supplies, encouragement, shelter, transportation, and other bits of “trail magic”. Trail magic can be as simple as leaving behind water bottles or as elaborate as hosting an entire barbeque meal just off the trail or hosting hikers in personal homes. Jan experienced many of these trail magic moments and was blown away by the kindness and goodness of people. She couldn’t help but reflect on the intangible trail magic her friends from home had given her. “Learning about the amazing people here [SRA], and the support that they gave me- that was nothing short of amazing.
Knowing she wouldn’t quit came partly from her drive to achieve goals. She said she has always had a strong drive, but through rowing she found a new dimension to it. With rowing, she experienced her drive as more than commitment and determination – there was a depth to it. She said she was “pulled” to Canada, like a fish on a fishing line being pulled in. There was no choice.
Reaching the end, which for her was Mt. Shasta, was a bittersweet moment. “I was incredibly grateful for the experience,” Schelter commented, “I suppose I was a little teary-eyed to have actually finished. I was also thankful for the support that all my SRA friends gave me along the way. I didn’t expect that- I didn’t know it was coming. I was also relieved to be finished!” Schelter is glad to be back in her own bed and to have indoor plumbing, but she occasionally misses life on the trail. To help prevent the sense of loss one can feel after finishing this big of adventure Jan is throwing herself back into rowing to help with her transition back to “normal” life.
As Jan prepared to start a post-PCT workout at the SRA boathouse, I asked Jan if she had any advice or final thoughts about this incredible adventure. “The PCT is such an amazing journey, so many experiences. So, I would say, live the National Geographic’s Nature Magazine motto- Dream it, Plan it, Do it.”
Elizabeth W. Wilson
In August, Sammamish Rowing Association (SRA) announced a 3 year partnership with the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA). The PCA works to develop better athletes and people through resources for youth and high school sport coaches, parents, administrators and student-athletes. Through its resources such as printable tools, videos, workshops, and audio tools, PCA strives to create a positive, character-building youth sports culture.
SRA’s partnership with PCA aims to help our coaches become and remain Double-Goal Coaches. A Double-Goal Coach strives to win while also pursuing the more important goal of teaching life lessons through sports. Our coaches continuously think about balancing the drive and ambition to win while also building a lifelong passion for rowing.
Just this fall our coaches have participated in a PCA workshop, and have been taking part in the ACCEL Sports Management Certificate at the University of Washington. In these courses our coaches have worked alongside other sports coaches to discuss team culture, leadership, and athlete development. They’ve learned creatively through engaging lectures, group work, role-playing coaching scenarios, and completing worksheets and assignments meant to explore all areas of their coaching.
PCA training has seen higher retention rates of both coaches and athletes which they attribute to the Double-Goal Coach Model Training that influences coaches to change their coaching behavior, enabling them to more positively influence the experiences of the athletes on their teams. We believe that our athletes deserve the best, and when we invest in our coaches we invest in our athletes.
The PCA also works with student-athletes and parents. Many SRA parents attended the Second-Goal Parent workshop in September to learn how they can best support their student-athlete. This Saturday, our rowers will attend their own workshop focusing on social media usage. All rowers are required to attend the PCA training this Saturday, November 17th, from 8:30 am-10:30 am.
In a world where social media is becoming increasingly used in our daily lives this training will be an opportunity for our athletes to examine their use of social media and its impact on the team, themselves, and the community as a whole. A certified PCA trainer will use a series of personal reflections and several real-life scenarios to help athletes think deeply about their use of the various social platforms. Rowers will consider their personal brand and how social media plays into other people’s perceptions of them, including collegiate coaches and recruiters.
Upon conclusion of this workshop, our student-athletes will leave equipped with social media guidelines that they can enact in their school community, personal life, or team. We hope this training helps carry on the goal of PCA to create better athletes and better people. By being deliberate in how our athletes present themselves at school, around the boathouse, and within their own communities they can work towards becoming a positive influence on others and leading by example.
We look forward to seeing all rowers present at this training, and we hope this workshop creates an open dialogue within friend groups and families on the importance of smart social media use. If you would like to learn more about the PCA and explore some of their 1,500+ free resources, check out their home webpage linked in the article. To read about our 3-year partnership visit our blog post linked below.
When I walked up the stairs after sending off my junior rowers, Susan Cameron was already outside my office and greeted me with a huge smile. Instantly I could feel her warmth, sincerity, and kind spirit as we sat down to talk. I would have never known that just a year ago she was diagnosed with Acoustic Neuroma, a tumor in her brain. Together we sat upstairs in the boathouse and she shared her inspiring story with me- her beginnings at SRA, her journey through the brain tumor, and everything that came after.
Susan has been a rower with Sammamish Rowing Association (SRA) for five years now. Starting at the age of 12, Cameron had been an avid runner. She focused largely on long distance running and often ran with a running group. At one point she was training for the Paris Marathon, but ended up injuring her Achilles that resulted in surgery. Always looking on the bright side, Cameron happily added that while it was unfortunate that she suffered from this injury it eventually led her to the sport of rowing.
Being a member of SRA for five years means that something has brought Susan back time and time again. When asked what keeps her coming back to the boathouse she cited off several reasons immediately. “Love for the sport, teamwork unlike any other sport, a strong community, the individuals, always something more to learn, supporting one another,” she said instantly. Cameron added, “The other thing that keeps me coming back is having a place to push myself to the maximum- my maximum physically, my maximum mentally, emotionally- just pushing myself and discovering what my limits are. I don’t think I’ve discovered what my limits are. I’ve touched them physically, but I want to keep pushing that and see how far I can go.”
Flash back to 2017 just before the Head of the Charles Regatta. Cameron was training for and competing intensely for this event. “It was 100% my focus and nothing was going to stand in my way,” she said. “The six months leading up to that I had felt some dizziness, experienced some hearing loss. After the Head of the Charles I just noticed more symptoms and the symptoms were more pronounced. So I decided to get checked out.” Her MRI was November 21st. Cameron had actually gone to the Internet for her own research and correctly self diagnosed herself before the MRI- one of the few times where looking up symptoms online has been accurate! Her radiologists confirmed that she had Acoustic Neuroma.
To recover, Cameron needed 24/7 care the first week home. Cameron had an inner circle of care that was comprised of her sons, former husband, and her sweet golden retriever Hobbes who recently passed away. Her outer circle was a small army of friends, a large amount who are rowers at Sammamish. “I felt that people were just there to catch me and carry me through. I had meals; I had people coming to take me for walks, because I had to re-learn how to walk. People signed up and would come take me for a walk.”
She then went on to describe all the people who helped her and the various ways they supported her during her recovery. There was Celine who made her a French meal and took her on a walk, Deborah gave her a courage necklace, Dennis, Lee, and Raina visited her before the ECM holiday party to bring a little holiday joy to her. There was also Marilyn and Jennie Proby who gave her fuzzy socks, a mug with the word “fierce” on it, and they provided delicious fudge. Jocelyn gave a coloring book and doughnuts, Lana provided dinners and a handicap parking pass, Mari was there to provide treats, dinners, and walks, and Sarah came by to visit and brought some meals as well. Yvonne, Niels, Chong, and Bronyn provided even more walks and meals. Finally, Debbie had someone pressure wash Susan’s driveway and also created the acronym FAN that stood for “F*#! Acoustic Neuroma”, a phrase that their boat rallied around. Cameron was amazed by the support she received from friends and the SRA community.
“My balance isn’t 100%, and the right side of my face is still numb. There are things I continue to feel and I do have a residual tumor, and I am going back to have an MRI and have it checked on November 26th. It will have either died, stopped growing, or continued to grow,” Cameron said when asked about how she is currently doing. “I think back to what we can control and what we can’t. There are so many things in life we can’t control, but what we can control is how we deal with it.”
“Pay attention to yourself. In retrospect there were things six months ago that I should have paid more attention to.” Cameron felt it was very important to add that we should take time to listen to our bodies and seek proper attention when things seem “off”. Some other advice she provided was to be open to receiving help. “For me it didn’t come naturally, but people want to help.” We circled back around to Sammamish right before Susan left for an ECM meeting. “The community is so incredible. I was just overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support. People were there. People were on it. I am incredibly grateful for this amazing community. We’re people first, rowers second – and I love how we honor each other as individuals.”
That is what it comes down to at SRA. People first, rowing second. Our community is made up of incredibly strong people like Susan, and incredibly devoted friends like some of the people mentioned in this story. We are a community, a family, a team. We are Sammamish.
Written By: Elizabeth W. Wilson
Meet Some of Your Coaches
Dickson holds a level 3 coaching certification from USRowing. Dickson has developed junior scullers at the Vesper Boat Club in Philadelphia as well as coached at the Craftsbury Sculling Center in Vermont.
Also in Florida, Dickson has been Director of Rowing at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale and Manager and Head Coach of Miami Beach Rowing Club.
Dickson entered coaching following her college rowing career, becoming the first head coach for the Annapolis Junior Rowing Program. She also served as assistant women’s coach at Colgate University.
Liza spent 4 years in Oklahoma City. In 13-14 and 14-15, Dickson primarily served as the Women’s Rowing Coach for Oklahoma City University. During that time Liz Mathews medaled at the Head of the Charles and won the National Championship in the 1x at the Dad Vail Regatta twice. In 2015, the Women’s team finished 5th in the Women’s Varsity 8+ at the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Regatta (SIRA) – a highest ever finish for the women. Also in 2015, Dickson coached a Lightweight 2x in its inaugural year at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) to a fifth place finish.
In the spring of 2016, Dickson coached both the Men’s and Women’s squads. At the SIRA Regatta the Women won the Petite Final of the Women’s Varsity 8+. Every Men’s entry collected a medal: the Men’s 2- notched OCU’s first SIRA gold ever, the Men’s 4+ finished 2nd and the Men’s Varsity 8+ finished 3rd. The Stars qualified for the IRA Regatta for the 2nd time. The Lightweight 2x finished 6th, the Men’s Varsity 4+ finished 26th and the Men’s Varsity 8+ finished 23rd.
Also, while in Oklahoma City, Dickson coached High Performance and Development Athletes at the Oklahoma City National High Performance Center. In 2015, she was named the Women’s Coach for the US Team at the World University Games in South Korea. In 2016 she coached athletes competing both at Olympic and world Championship Trials.
Collegiately, Dickson competed for Washington College (Chestertown, Md.) under Coach Mike Davenport. Dickson earned her degree in political science from Washington. Dickson is originally from St. Michaels, Md.
Steven’s rowing career began in 2001 at Winter Park High School in Winter Park, FL, where he won two state championships and a national championship in the Varsity 8+. After his freshmen year of rowing at the University of Washington, Steven hung up the oar and began coaching for Sammamish as the novice boys' coach during the 2006/07 season. In 2008, Steven returned to his alma mater Winter Park High School where he worked as a teacher and coach for five years, including two years as head coach. During his tenure at Winter Park, the program won three state championships and two national championships in 2009 and 2012. Steven returned to Sammamish in 2013 to lead the junior boys’ team and has since coached every program at SRA. In June of 2016 Steven was promoted to his current role as the Executive Director. Steven has a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Central Florida and a master’s degree in athletic administration from the University of Washington.
David's many years of hard work, smart training, and willingness to learn new things resulted in multiple medal-winning performances at some of the world's most prestigious regattas for masters, including the Head of the Charles, Masters' Nationals, and Masters' Worlds. Afterward, David shifted his focus to passing on his passion for rowing in the same way his coaches had done for him. He now coaches the Masters Sculling and Experienced Girls teams as part of his never-ending drive to help every rower reach their potential.
When not coaching, David uses his background in technology to create a better world for coaches and rowers through his work at RowHero.
On Wednesday, December 5, 2018 we will be hosting an Athlete Info Night for prospective rowers of all ages to tour the boathouse, meet the coaches, and learn more about the sport of rowing. Sammamish offers programs for all ages starting with our 6th & 7th grade team to our various adult teams. As you are aware, one of the benefits of rowing is that you can start at any age with no experience. Thousands of youth and adults have changed their lives by rowing for SRA.
SRA invites all to learn about our passion for rowing and commitment to serving our community and we hope to recruit the next generation of Sammamish rowers. Please share the Info Night invitation with your friends, family, and co-workers. Current members and rowers are welcome to bring a guest and show them around the boathouse.
Click on our social media icons above to learn a bit more about our teams and to see us in action. If you have questions you can contact our Director of Membership and Community by clicking the email icon above.
This weekend is going to be exciting and busy for most of the Sammamish Rowing community. On Saturday we have a regatta for our Novice Masters at Green Lake and Sunday will be the highly anticipated 39th annual Head of the Lake Regatta hosted by the Lake Washington Rowing Club and the University of Washington. We wish all of our rowers the best of luck in their races this weekend as well as some of our alumni who are partaking in an exciting endeavor of their own.
SRA and University of Washington alumni Sam Goertz and Madison Mariani are having the grand opening of their new business - Crew Cup Coffee Rowsters. Goertz and Mariani will be serving their delicious brew at the Conibear Shellhouse from 4:45 am - 3:00 pm. If their coffee is as anything like their rowing then it is definitely a beverage you’ll want to try out.
Mariani told us a bit about her and Goertz’s new business. Mariani said, “Crew Cup Coffee Rowster’s is two ambitious rowers providing what everyone needs at 5:30 AM, a delicious cup of coffee at a price that doesn’t break the bank. We created this company because we love making, roasting, and sharing our coffee. We have always known we wanted to get into the coffee industry, and we felt that starting in a community we already know would be perfect.”
They have big goals for the future and hope to be a regular presence at all regattas in the Pacific Northwest and possibly expand further to national regattas down the road. Goertz is confident that coffee lovers will fall for Crew Cup Coffee Rowsters at first taste. He said, “Coffee lovers will love our coffee because we take great pride in the espresso we pull every day. We achieve the best flavors by sourcing raw coffee beans from around the world by targeting the local growth from around the coffee plantations. This delivers the most precise flavor to the coffee that we are looking for. The forefront taste of chocolate, notes of hazel nut, and a bright finish of caramel. We roast our beans strategically to bring these flavors to life, and tailor the grind of the bean to pull exquisite creamy espresso.”
Their catchy name directly ties to the sport that inspired them to become entrepreneurs in the first place. Mariani and Goertz credit their time at Sammamish Rowing Association for teaching them entrepreneurial lessons of teamwork, communication, and stubbornness. They also admitted that rowing gave them an incredible network of individuals who mentored them throughout their entrepreneurial career. Above all, Mariani added, “rowing and SRA taught us to push the limit on everything we do and to dream big. Because when you believe in something so much, anything can happen.”
Sammamish Rowing is incredibly proud of Madison and Sam and wishes them the best as they start their new endeavor. We encourage our community to seek out their coffee at the Head of the Lake, and hope to see them serving coffee at the SRA boathouse in the near future. When closing out our interview, Mariani finished by answering our question about what her favorite memory at SRA was. She replied, “There are so many! An easy one is all the life-long friendships and relationships we have built at SRA.”
The lessons, skills, and values of rowing extend far beyond the surface of a body of water. For Mariani and Goertz- rowing has given them the confidence to launch their own business. Whether it’s teaching rowing technique or business acumen, Sammamish Rowing has a little something for everyone to learn.