Paul Colvin is married with two daughters. One of his daughters began rowing during her freshman year of highschool. By her junior year Paul took up the sport as well. “I had an erg since early 90’s, and it sat unused for about a decade. Though I had used it a bit and knew it was a great workout,” Colvin said about his rowing beginnings. Once he was part of the team he was hooked.
Andy Roberts, like Colvin, had never rowed in his life before starting the sport as an adult. Roberts had joined Sammamish Rowing Association’s (SRA) Learn to Row (LTR) program in 2012 and had a huge group of great people in his LTR class. “I needed to do something competitive. I played soccer before, but my teammates kept getting injured,” he said. Like Colvin, Roberts had caught the rowing bug and stayed with SRA year after year, unlike many of his fellow LTR teammates who seemed to fizzle away.
Paul Meyer rowed a bit during his school years in the Netherlands, but wasn’t particularly looking to get back into rowing until his wife took it up. When they moved to the United States, his wife picked up rowing at SRA to stay fit. At the end of her Learn to Row experience, she introduced Paul to Jenny Proby and he eventually joined the ECM team. Meyer said, “it took a couple of years to get all the fitness back, but I'm happy I did it.”
Then there was Mike Fitzner who moved to Washington in 2004 from California. At that time, SRA offered winter conditioning classes that appealed to Fitzner. The crazy good workouts were matched with terrific coaching as Fitzner learned proper erg form during his initial time at SRA. However, other sports drew Fitzner away from the old boathouse for a few years before his return. “I introduced a colleague at work, Leslie Moser, to erging. She ended up doing LTR, and told me it was the best thing ever. She eventually wore me down to try actual rowing so I gave in,” Fitnzer said. He loved it and has put his entire focus on rowing ever since. He too commented on the fact that his LTR class seemed to dwindle out despite the strong sense of community and fun.
Just a few years back the men on the Evening Competitive Masters (ECM) were few and far between. Fitzner, Colvin, and Roberts are some of the men who have stuck around the longest to see the team really grow. Fitzner said, “Over the years we tend to lose people, the ones who stay are the ones who would do it for life.” All of the men agreed that while many LTR participants love rowing not all of them are ready for the commitment that comes with rowing.
Roberts commented, ““At our age and the time we row, life can get in the way. Rowing at 6:30pm at night is hard for some people.” Time, family, work, and other commitments can make it hard for people to consistently make it to the boathouse.
Fitzner added, “If you want to row competitively you cannot half-ass practice and the time commitment. You won't advance in your rowing technique and make better boats. That is going to weed out and frustrate people.”
It’s true that it takes a certain type of person to stay committed to the sport. All the men agreed that they don’t just row- rowing is a part of them. Fitzner said, “My friends have no idea how difficult this is,” to which Roberts added, “but they all know you row.” Despite the dedication it takes to be successful in rowing, these men along with all of our other members, see their dedication as totally worth their time.
Slowly but surely the ECM team has seen growth in the amount of men on the team, as well as its competitiveness. Fitzner, Colvin, and Roberts have simply attributed that growth and development to the strong community and time. Colvin said, “I can’t say I’ve actively recruited anyone- it’s a hard sport to recruit for. If people show up you hope they are having a good time and have that desire to work hard and stick with it.”
Meyer said that Colvin and Roberts were incredibly encouraging during his entire time on the ECM team. He said, “To me, Paul and Andy have been a constant in the time I was with ECM. A couple of years ago, ECM sent a Men’s 4+ to the Head of the Charles Regatta. That was not a completely ideal journey (we had to replace one of the rowers at the last minute), but it set the stage for what is possible. This ignited the initial ambition and it has only grown since.”
Roberts added that they lead by example. “We are working our asses off and have fun while doing it, and people see that. Having people come in seeing we are succeeding now and seeing we started out where they started out is a big factor in having people stay.” All of these men came to join ECM through the LTR program. It took time for them to be at the level they are now. They remember how hard it was in the beginning and that memory reminds them to encourage new members as they embark on their own rowing journeys. The men agreed that when they see someone with athletic potential come up through LTR they encourage the individual to stay.
Coach Lee Henerson of the ECM team talked about the team growth as well. “It has been exciting and rewarding to watch the team over the years. The thing that I preach is to own your experience and there’s a core group of guys that have bought into that. Paul [Colvin], Andy, Paul [Meyer], and Mike have definitely bought into that among others. These rowers have been through the ups and downs and thick and thin. We’ve been able to build up through the LTR ranks and that core group has gotten stronger.”
Henderson added, “The group has continued to grow and buy into the ‘own your experience’ philosophy. They run workouts together and make it fun. A cadre of guys have been coming together all of July. The improvements we’ve seen are a result of that philosophy.” Henderson also attributed team growth to the intentional targeting of better racing opportunities. ECM has begun adding bigger and bigger events to their racing schedule such as the Head of the Charles Regatta. The increase in exciting racing opportunities has correlated to increases elsewhere in the team.
Those increases were in numbers and competitiveness. Fitzner said about their progress as a team, “we have rowed splits this year we never thought possible. In contrast to other crews or other crews from other clubs, we don’t have anyone who rowed collegiately in our men’s eight. We all started novice year here at SRA.” All of them agreed that their favorite SRA memory was this year’s Opening Day. Fitzner said, “our rowing then was so good it felt like the season was over for me, as I didn’t think this experience could be topped. We came in second place even though we went in with no expectations. It was an awesome race out of the gate. The whole 2K with the boats and yachts on starboard side, with the noise, and the way the boat felt- it was perfect. Stars aligned.”
Their progress over the years has been due to many factors; hard work, dedication, patience, and an incredible support group. They’ve talked about the tremendous impact that excellent coxswains like Amy Shotwell and Lia Roberds have had on their progress. Fitzner, Colvin, and Roberts all agreed that Roberds’ coxing skills and dedication to them has made all the difference in many of their practice and races. They trust her to help them get the best practice in possible or race their best race, and say she provides a unique benefit in that she acts as both a skillful coach and coxswain when in the boat. Coach Henderson mentioned that Shotwell has been instrumental to the team for years and having Lia around to coach and cox is an incredible benefit for the team.
With their recent success and incredible progress the men now feel like they belong. By that they mean they feel that they are finally good enough to be worthy competitors with fellow SRA teams, local crews, and even national competition. Henderson said, “I believe having multiple strong competitive teams within SRA just makes for an overall healthier program. It gives options to athletes that I find exciting.”
However, rowing prowess isn’t the only strong part of the team. Their bond as a group has grown too. Roberts said, “One of the best things about ECM are the things we do outside of the boathouse. We do a rowing camp at Lake Samish. It’s such a great way to start the new year. We get such great bonding, rowing, and the very spartan cabin accommodations add to the overall experience. It makes ECM a unique place!”
Colvin added, “We have fun together. The first and third Thursdays of the month we drink beer as a team and hang out.” Meyer also loves the third Thursday beers as well as the team's Christmas party.
Strong bonds, incredible work ethic, and years of patience and determination have paid off for the members of the ECM team at SRA. Fitzner finished with, “It’s a great time to be in ECM right now. We have a great group of guys,” which Colvin agreed with.
“And a great coaching staff,” Roberts added quickly, “Lee, Dennis, Lia, Matt- all of them.”
It was the middle of a sweltering hot day in Utah when Steven Freygang, then the Experienced Junior Boys Coach, noticed smoke in the mirror of the passenger side of the trailer. He and Dennis Ferrer were in the midst of driving the Sammamish Rowing Association (SRA) trailer back from Junior Nationals hosted in Florida. SRA had an incredible presence at the regatta. All three boats(Varsity 8, Ltwt. 8, Ltwt. 4) had made the finals and Freygang noted their varsity crew was “off the charts good.”
It was an exciting time for Ferrer and Freygang, but that elation was also met with disappointment. During the varsity 8+’s grand final, their cox box failed in the first 500 meters. The crew responded by surging ahead, but soon ran out of gas as their race strategy was lost. They still had an impressive finish, and ended up being the fifth fastest junior men’s varsity 8+ in the country, but they were disappointed when thinking about what could have been if the cox box had not failed.
In a hurry to get the trailer back to Sammamish Rowing Association (SRA) in time for Masters Regionals, Ferrer and Freygang missed the opportunity to fully debrief with their athletes after nationals. As they drove towards home with a trailer loaded full of SRA and other Pacific North West team boats, they definitely felt a little low. Then came the smoke from the back of the trailer.
Freygang jumped out of the truck and hurried to the back of the trailer. The rear axle was on fire. Grabbing their only water bottle from the truck, he dumped it on the axle to put out the fire. “We stood there and didn’t know what to do,” Freygang said. On the side of the road in the middle of nowhere in blazing heat with no one around, they had no idea what to do next.
Their only idea was to call AAA. A representative from AAA came out, took one look at the 20,000 pound trailer and truck, and confirmed their fears that he really couldn’t help. The AAA man stayed with them though as they desperately called local coaches and teams in hopes that someone could help move their boats onto another trailer while they figured out what to do. No one was responding.
The AAA employee ended up helping them lift the axel just barely enough with a steel bar, assuring Fregygang and Ferrer that some trailers could be driven on just one axle for a short time. He drove behind the trailer as Freygang and Ferrer drove under ten miles per hour to the closest semi-truck repair shop. They made it and pleaded with the repair shop workers to let them store the trailer there overnight. They agreed to help, and Freygang and Ferrer left the trailer behind as they drove off in the truck in search of a place to stay. Every hotel and available room seemed to be booked except for one honeymoon suite at a local bed and breakfast. They accepted the room which also came with champagne and breakfast in bed.
Eventually the two drove home in the truck, leaving the trailer behind in Utah. It wasn’t until a month later that a special ordered part arrived at the semi-truck repair shop, and was used to repair the trailer. Simon Williams drove down to Utah with his wife, picked up the trailer, and SRA’s worst trailer experience was now in the past.
Not all trailer driving experiences are this dramatic and full of despair, as Freygang recalled. However, driving a 20,000 pound fully loaded trailer is no easy task. While it doesn’t require a specific license to haul in most states, SRA still requires its coaches to do some training. Matt Lundberg, a seasoned coach and trailer driver at SRA, said, “To be able to drive the trailer you don’t need any sort of professional license. Like with an RV- it’s scary to know not always the most qualified people are driving it. At SRA you go through training that entails being a co-pilot some number of times. After that, when a pilot gives you the go-ahead you are good to drive.”
Lundberg has driven the trailer for nearly a decade. He says that a good amount of nerves is always a good thing for trailer drivers to have. It keeps them alert whereas a confident trailer driver may not notice when something is wrong.
So what does trailer driving entail? A lot of stops for gas and coffee. Lundberg said, “if your co-pilot drinks coffee you stop for coffee.” While logging a lot of hours on the road isn’t always the most exciting task to take on, Lundberg still enjoys many parts of hauling the trailer. “Going from forests in Washington to mountain to plains and everything else in the other states is really neat. I enjoy seeing the different landscapes. Montana is very diverse going from evergreen forests and mountains to badlands type landscapes.”
Time is passed with plenty of music, podcasts, and conversations with you copilot(s). Some of Lundberg’s favorite moments are when they stop for gas, because people always come up and ask about the trailer and boats. He enjoys explaining where he is going and educating people about racing shells. He even once met people from Sammamish, Washington when he was halfway across the country!
So far Lundberg has had great success with driving the trailer, and has experienced practically no emergencies. He did however, drive a trailer through a hurricane in Florida, and happened to have the bow of a boat crash through the rear window of the vehicle he was driving at the time.
Lundberg wanted all rowers to remember one thing about driving the trailer - boats need to be strapped down tight! “Highway speed is same as hurricane speeds. Strap down boats tightly please!” He said.
Over the years Lundberg has had many co-pilots, but he did disclose who his favorite co-pilot of all time was. His wife has been able to accompany him over the years on trailer drives so she was his obvious pick for his favorite co-pilot. When they drive the trailer to San Diego they make a road trip out of it and try to stop at fun spots and overlooks during the journey.
Driving the trailer takes a lot of hard work, hours, and thoroughness to ensure successful arrivals and departures. It’s an essential job to ensure we can provide national racing experiences to our members at Sammamish Rowing Association. Even though trailer driving is hard labor - it’s a labor of love. The next time you see the trailer loaded up and ready to go, be sure to give the straps an extra look, and slip a gift-card for coffee into the driver’s seat if you have the chance (or in Lundberg’s case, a PB&J sandwich).
USRowing Nationals took place from July ninth through the fourteenth. The athletes who went had trained for the three weeks prior to the event nearly two times a day. “ We wanted them to experience training at a higher intensity level, and wanted to help them understand the impact of that on their nutrition, sleep and recovery. They also got the opportunity to row in smaller boats (2-, 1x) which is harder to do logistically during the school year,” Eliza Dickson, Sammamish Rowing Association’s Junior Program Director, said.
Alec Willett, Ethan Currie, Anna Barry, and Eliza Dickson coached twenty-four junior athletes, who all had to apply for the training camp during their spring season. Coach Dickson said she, “really enjoyed watching the group come together as well as seeing how the athletes took ownership of the experience . Regardless of results, it is also gratifying to watch them learn so much in such a short period of time.” Many of the athletes were seen coming to the boathouse early before many of their double practices to get in extra work. Their dedication to training was remarkable. “They did an amazing job,” Dickson added, “many of our athletes did seven 2k races in three days. That’s like an entire season of spring racing!”
Junior rower, Eli Rubenstein, noted how difficult but gratifying the long weeks of training were. He said, “During the weeks of training before USRowing Nationals it was extremely difficult waking up early and practicing in a variety of boats six days a week, which introduced me to a whole new type of training that pushed me to new limits. Alongside the long morning water practices- the land days three days a week were very difficult. With all these practices a lot of food and sleep was needed, but in the end all the hours were worth it.”
Many of the rowers had their own reasons for doing the camp, but Rubenstein said, “I decided to do this camp to have an opportunity to get more one on one time with the coaches so I could build relationships with them early on. One of my main goals personally for this camp was to improve my rowing technically so I can have the best chance possible for the upcoming season. This experience helped me as a rower to really advance my rowing to another level, be able to compete against the fastest nationally, and also mentally be able to push myself beyond limits I didn't know existed.”
Philip Popa, a junior coxswain of the group, also gave insight on to why he did the camp. “I wanted to gain more racing experience,” he said. “More than that, I also wanted to gain an overall feel for how the experienced boys’ team functions, since I will be joining them in the fall. As far as racing was concerned, I just wanted to place as high as possible, and be able to say after the regatta that we did our best whatever the results ended up being.” Popa and Rubenstein were both on the Junior Boys Novice team last fall and spring and will now be on the Experience Junior Boys team.
Even though the training was long, difficult, and tiring, the athletes still had plenty of fun. Rubenstein commented on one of his favorite memories during the trip to Ohio. He said, “One of my favorite moments was the day raced in the Semi-Finals for the U17 4+. Going into this race our whole boat were novices and had the least amount of experience. We were given a speech from Coach Liza and Ethan before our race that opened up our eyes to a whole new world. They told us we were the future of Sammamish [Sammamish Rowing Association], and this race was for us to push our limits more than any other. Our race was the hardest we had ever pushed ourselves and because of that a sense of pride comes to me. Although we didn't qualify for the Grand Finals we did our best and learned a lot along the way.”
Whether or not our juniors got a medal- they all came away from USRowing Nationals with successful accomplishments. From pushing their limits, forging new relationships, and discovering their unbounded potential- every junior rower has a reason to be proud of their performance in Ohio. Sammamish Rowing Association did however take home a second place finish in the Women’s U19 2- Final, and second place in the Women’s U19 4- Final. Congratulations to all of our athletes for your amazing growth, development, and success during USRowing Nationals training and the regatta!
SRA Junior Program Director Eliza Dickson has announced Dennis Ferrer as Head Girls Coach.
"The key traits I was looking for during the search were a commitment to developing young people, both in and out of rowing; a commitment to building a full-team culture based on hard work and respect; the ability to work with all coaches on staff in a selfless and positive manner; and a history of success at the regional and national level," said Dickson. "During this process I became more and more confident that the best person for this job was right here in our boathouse."
"After working with Dennis over the past year one major thing stood out to me - the care, commitment and passion to give his athletes the best experience possible," Dickson continued. "That is the most important trait that I look for in any coach on our staff. Additionally, Dennis has a history of success coaching Sammamish boats to more than 13 Northwest Regional Championships and qualifying eight boats to USRowing Youth Nationals with four making the grand final – more than any other coach in SRA’s history. These are high achievements for an early coaching career."
“I’m humbled and excited by the opportunity to lead this team,” Ferrer said. “I’ve been a part of Sammamish for a long time and am looking forward to continuing to build SRA into the program we all know it can be. There is an incredible group of young women on the team right now and I think we are primed to make some big steps forward.”
Following high school rowing, Gallaher decided to attend the University of Washington (UW). Even before she started rowing, she knew that she wanted to attend UW for academics. After her rowing career started to get serious, she started to consider rowing in college. She got into UW without any help from the rowing team and then began to talk to coaches, and was eventually recruited onto the team. It would turn out that Gallaher would go on to become an incredible collegiate rower. Her list of accomplishments include winning 3 PAC-12 championships, an NCAA championship, and being invited to the US U23 national team selection camp this summer.
Overall, rowing for the Huskies has been a dream come true for Gallaher. “It’s surreal looking back at the time that I didn’t think I was good enough to row for UW,” she said. “I looked up to the older girls on the team my freshman year, and looking where I am now it is honestly a little unbelievable. These past three years have had so many ups and downs, but at the end of the day I feel so lucky and blessed to be where I am. I absolutely love the team.”
Gallaher and other teammates, both men and women, spent time last year writing the grant proposal and ended up receiving one of the largest grant sums from the University’s Sustainability fund. The men’s and women’s rowing teams will each receive an electric motor, and Gallaher and her team are looking for more ways to bring sustainability to the rowing community. Another aspect of their project is outreach. “We had the opportunity to talk at a Sammamish Rowing Association board meeting about our project. Electric launches might not be feasible at the time for all rowing programs, but starting a conversation about environmental sustainability is a great first step. It’s been really cool to be a part of the conversation, and even cooler that SRA was also involved. UW and SRA are both leaders in the northwest rowing community and I’m proud to be associated with both programs,” Gallaher said.
Fellow SRA junior rowing alumni, Tennyson Federspiel, helped Gallaher and her project partners present at the Sammamish boathouse. It is special to see our alumni embracing one of the core values of SRA, thoughtful stewardship, beyond their time at the Hod Fowler Boathouse. It just goes to show that we coach not just amazing rowers, but incredible leaders too.
Rowing has provided so many opportunities for Gallaher- something she is very aware of. She hopes to give back to the sport she loves, and when asked if she had any advice to offer, she said: “I think if I had advice to give to younger athletes it would be to not set limits for yourself. I realize it’s easy for me to say now that I’m rowing at UW and coming off of a national championship, but there was a time not so long ago that I thought I wasn’t good enough or strong enough to row at UW.”
“I am so thankful I had the experience of going through SRA- mainly being introduced to the sport and community at SRA. The support and coaching staff at SRA is so incredible. The community at SRA pushed me to take my rowing career as far as I could.” Gallaher finished with.
Congratulations on your incredible accomplishments, Molly! SRA is so proud of the leader and the person you are now, both in and out of the boat. We can’t wait to see what your senior year of college holds for you!
Roberds joined the women's team as a rower, and found herself struggling to keep up. She was consistently seated in the 4V or 5V boats, and found that rowing wasn’t her strongest area in crew. Standing at 5’1”, her coach encouraged her to try coxing in addition to rowing. After a couple years, she eventually moved onto the men’s team as a full time coxswain when the women’s team had a surplus of coxswains. After working for so long to start having success, Roberds was rewarded during her experience at the Head of the Charles Regatta in 2012.
Roberds graduated from the University of Washington in 2017 with a degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering, and now works for Convoy, which is a tech company in the trucking industry. However, she still makes time outside of work for coaching and coxing at Sammamish. “I do like hopping between coaching and coxing because I can add to the team in different ways,” she said. “I coached here in the summers in college and helped with almost every time slot and every age group.” Roberds enjoys passing on her love for the sport, and seeing her rowers experience new things and gain more skills. She added, “What I enjoy is having people overcome personal challenges, whether it’s a physical or mental challenge, and feel like they get one step stronger each time they come down to the boathouse.”
In all of her years rowing and beyond, Roberds has gained incredible experience. She advises new rowers to, “be comfortable with being a little uncomfortable and pushing yourself a little bit every day. Challenge yourself to be faster than you are, to step up into a leadership role, or to try something new. Learning something new is hard on it’s own. Create small goals one at a time and push yourself to accomplish them.”
Chris Ron started rowing in middle school while he was in the seventh grade. His parents had heard about the program from other parents and signed him up. Just a few years later he moved up to the high school team and was coached his novice year by Simon Williams. His 6 years at Sammamish Rowing Association (SRA) were transformative and full of great memories.
When asked about his rowing experience Ron said, “Rowing made me tougher. I had a sense of pride that I did crew. My friends weren’t always tough enough to do it so being in the sport gave me pride.” This sense of pride is commonly felt in rowers. Rowing is a tough sport. This full body workout and activity requires strength from the mind and body as well as cardiovascular endurance. A rower has to be disciplined, motivated, and hard working to succeed and that is exactly what Ron was and still is.
His favorite memory during his time as a rower was when his nationals petition for his pair with Sam Dernis went through and was approved. He and Dernis had missed the qualifying cut by 0.2 seconds at regionals, but petitioned for their chance to race at nationals in California and eventually their determination paid off.
His advice to new rowers is to look up to experienced rowers. He wants new rowers to look at experienced rowers and see how they can improve. He encourages novice rowers to reach out to the more experienced ones for advice and support. SRA has over 170 junior rowers all with their own unique experiences. We also have over 160 masters rowers to connect with. Combined with an incredibly dedicated, tenured, and knowledgeable staff- the opportunities to learn from others are endless at the Hod Fowler Boathouse.
Outside of the boathouse Ron is dedicated to his studies. He hopes to transfer to Seattle University and is currently a Computer Science major. Outside of his coaching and class work, Ron enjoys creating music. He plays the guitar and has created some solo music that he plans to release on itunes in the near future.
His final advice was, “embrace the pain (in rowing). If anything is hard it’s probably a good thing.” The novice boys team and the whole entire SRA family have enjoyed having Chris back at the boathouse contributing to the sport he loves. From middle school rowing to high school coaching, Chris has been an incredible part of the SRA community. Be sure to compliment the hair cut the novice boys gave him following Junior Regionals!
The San Diego Crew Classic (SDCC) has been around since 1973 and was created by individuals who sought to bring the nation’s top collegiate crews together for an incredible racing experience. One of the first attendees included the University of Washington. The university harbors an impressive and renowned collegiate team that Sammamish Rowing Association (SRA) has sent many of its high school alumni to.
Today, the San Diego Crew Classic has grown considerably since 1973. Over 4,000 athletes in over 100 races compete in this two day, nationally acclaimed regatta. Thousands of spectators flock to Mission Bay Park to enjoy watching races in person, but even more watch via live stream footage on the regatta website.
Early this April, SRA sent four masters boats and six junior boats to the SDCC ensuring that our presence was noticed in the west. Every single SRA rower gave everything they had and enjoyed impressive race results. One of the well earned finishes belonged to the Junior Girls JV 8+ that captured a second place finish in their grand final on Sunday, April 5th.
Coached by Kelley Pope and Dennis Ferrer- the entire girls team has been working hard during their practices to see results like this. Pope and Ferrer discussed how ever since this past fall they knew they had the potential for speed. The girls JV 8+ has had an impressive season and their hard work combined with unwavering teamwork and determination gave their coaches confidence as the girls headed down to California.
Pope said, “We knew that boat was going to do well. They’ve been working hard so to see them actually perform under pressure to their capabilities was awesome. That was the biggest success- they were able to execute their race against fast teams they’ve never beaten before.” The SDCC brings together top crews from around the nation. It can be quite intimidating facing crews you’ve never raced against. The junior girls were able to manage that pressure and come out on top of a difficult group of competitors.
In a pre-race meeting, Pope said the team’s focus was on having a good race and performing as well as they possibly could. She told the girls to be proud of how they finish regardless of what other crews might do. The girls were positive and excited to race, and ended up coming together as a boat to hold each other accountable. Ferrer said, “I knew they were going to do well, so it wasn’t surprising to see them ahead in the race. Watching the heat was exciting, but during the finish the biggest thing I was happy with is that they rowed well down the whole course. They maintained composure and what we’ve been working on.”
Pope was with the girls in California while Ferrer was watching the livestream up in Seattle. Pope watched the race from near the finish line and said, “I was excited to see them race Saugatuck all the way down. They fought with top teams and had a successful race.”
Following their race the girls were celebrating with hugs and big smiles. They always start thinking about what they could have done just a little bit better in the race, but were overall very proud of their performance. As the crews who went to San Diego reunited with the rest of the team the following week- positivity was high. Pope and Ferrer said that the entire team has been doing extremely well and this race helped validate all the hours, weeks, and months of hard work. Pope mentioned, “The biggest thing is they came away with the lesson that they play a part in each other’s success. Their attitude and mental positivity plays into how well they are going to do.”
Looking ahead the girls and their coaches know more hard work is needed to keep their momentum going. The route to the San Diego Crew Classic was filled with intense practices and tough work. Ferrer added, “the weekend showed their efforts paid off and they will continue to the rest of the year.”
Congratulations to the Junior Women’s JV 8+, and to all of the other SRA boats who competed at the San Diego Crew Classic. SRA is immensely proud of your work and can’t wait to see what we accomplish as a team in the spring racing months ahead.
The SDCC Experienced Girls 2V Lineup was as follows:
Coxswain: Lauren Lozier
Stroke: Kennedy Harder
7: Lexa Wendl
6: Megan Culbert
5: Kathryn Clemens
4: Alex Lalor
3: Kristina Snyder
2: Olivia Feistner
Bow: Grace Epp
Years later Creighton would move to Washington and have a family. In 2013 her daughter, Frances, joined Sammamish Rowing Association (SRA) and piqued Creighton’s interest in the sport. She said, “my daughter had started as a novice so I did Learn To Row (LTR). I’ve always done sports, but at 5’2” I had never thought of my height as a competitive disadvantage. Luckily my fellow rowers have welcomed me ,and I’ve found my vertical disadvantage can be overcome with hard work and and a good sense of humor.” As someone who loves the outdoors, she also enjoys how immersed in nature the sport is. “On a cold and wet day, when you come off the water soaking wet, we have our beautiful and warm boathouse to come back to”
For three years Creighton was on the mid-morning team, but switched to sculling because it seemed like the right fit for her light weight. SRA has four masters teams so adult members are able to row on the team that best fits their schedule. The teams are known as 5AM, Mid-Morning, Evening Competitive Masters (ECM), and Sculling.
“Rowing anchors my life now,” Creighton commented. Her daughter is off to college at Washington State, but Creighton and her husband Mark share responsibility for managing care for their son with a profound disability. “It’s a tough aspect of my life and it is really nice for me to have something I can count on. At SRA I am with people who make me laugh and bring me joy, which makes it easier to cope with these things.” SRA provides around 2 hours of practice time for our adults. During that time all concerns outside of the boathouse are forgotten and your focus is completely in the boat or on the erg.
Another draw to rowing is the longevity of involvement in the sport. At SRA we have rowers ranging in ages twelve to eighty! Since it is a low impact sport, many people find it to be a great alternative to the sports they used to enjoy but can no longer do for fear of injury. “It’s been really fun to see the people who are ahead of us to keep us going,” Creighton said. She looks up to older rowers and is excited to continue pursuing the sport she loves.
With her years of experience, Creighton had some final advice for new rowers. “Show up,” she said. “When you’re starting something new it can be hard to feel competent, but if you commit to showing up and participating with the team, it makes a big difference. Recognize that there could be people there that might be more serious than you are or better, but make it your own journey.” She also hopes that new members can appreciate how lucky we are with our Hod Fowler Boathouse, completed in 2016. Years of dedicated fundraising from rowers and their families have made it a reality for all new rowers to SRA to enjoy.
SRA is lucky to have members like Ann Creighton who light up our boathouse and add positive energy to their boats. Ann takes times to appreciate all aspects of our sport from the intricacies of technique to the simple wildlife viewings during practice. She can turn an unfortunate moment into a positive new outlook, and she enjoys the laughter she shares with teammates and friends. Thank you Ann for being a ray of sunshine at SRA even when skies are grey.
Our community also includes those who will never row, and those volunteers deserve just as much recognition. While they might not be getting PR’s on 2K tests every few weeks, their contributions can be just as impressive. Such is the case of Vanessa Harder, the SRA Volunteer of the Year for 2018.
Susan Freeberg spoke at the September 2017 mandatory parent meeting that Harder attended (as a novice parent), where Freeberg asked for someone to take charge and manage the food tent at regattas.
Since she was in the 7th grade, Harder has been volunteering, beginning with National Charity League (NCL) which is a mother – daughter philanthropy organization she joined with her mother. Fun fact, Harder and both her daughters have been a part of NCL here in Washington. Her donation of time and devotion to her community continued through high school, college, and up till now. When those emails kept flooding her inbox, looking for an SRA food tent leader, she felt like she should check it out. Harder said, “The thing is that it’s been with me for so long [volunteering] that giving back is part of who I am.” All her life, Harder had always focused on giving back to her community. She has logged far too many volunteer hours to count and has been involved in numerous organizations and sports. “My volunteering resume is more extensive than my career resume,” she said
A lot of what she does with the food tent, she had to learn herself; alongside her husband, or from other volunteers. Not only is she intensely focused on doing everything properly and in an organized manner, she also adds her own personal touch. She recalls once making several gallon sized zip-lock bags of homemade dry rub to flavor the steak and chicken for the chipotle style protein bowls, now know as “SRA Bowls” they had at the food tent for junior regionals last year. She focuses on staying away from pre-made food, and invests time in researching healthy, nutritious meals and snacks for the rowers and coaches.
Harder works in tandem with Pam Halverson, another junior parent, who is in charge of looking at food alternatives for athletes with allergies to ensure that every rower has plenty to eat regardless of the limits of their diets. Harder said, “We want volunteers to be happy. Getting parents engaged in the food tent and close to the racecourse makes them love it.” Harder and her husband contributed a gift to the food tent supplies- bright red Williams Sonoma aprons with the SRA logo on front. Donning these aprons, and red SRA hats, volunteers feel like they are truly part of the team as well- and they are.
Harder has taught her children to “leave everything better than you found it,” and she is applying the same principles to her volunteer work at SRA. She finds under buying food for regattas “unacceptable” and make sure every rower can have as many servings as they like to properly fuel for races, while also making sure she is fiscally responsible to stay within SRA’s budget. Her personal touch is seen everywhere from her hand crafted menus to the oatmeal bar wagon she plans to have at Regionals this year. Her desire to make volunteering at the food tent a pleasant experience has dramatically risen the number of parents who sign up to volunteer and wear the now famous red aprons.
Kennedy is finishing up her sophomore year so the Harder’s plan to be around a little while longer. However, Vanessa is already preparing to pass on the food tent baton. “When the time comes, I want to hand it off better than I found it”. For now, she is savoring every experience as her daughter continues participating in the sport she loves.
SRA has amazing athletes, no question about it, but we also have an incredible support system. People generously give their time, attention, and effort to make this organization, “better than they found it,” as Harder would say. Without our volunteers, much of what we do wouldn’t be possible. It truly takes a team- one made up of more than just athletes- to accomplish our mission. Thank you to Vanessa Harder, SRA’s 2018 Volunteer of the Year, and all of our volunteers for the outstanding work you do for our team.