In 2001 Ben entered first grade and Floss thought, “My kids are now in school so I’m not quite as exhausted anymore. I can do this 5am Learn to Row before they are even awake, and when they get up I’ll be home, send them off to school, and it will be manageable!” She had seen flyers for Sammamish Rowing Association’s (SRA) program and had memories of seeing boats on a river near her college campus years ago.
“I thought- that looks really interesting, let’s just go for it. The timing was perfect. I was ready for something new in my life, because all I had going on was my kids. I was a stay at home mom at the time, I didn’t have a job anymore,” Floss added. She felt like her identity had been solely tied to her kids and she was looking for something new . Rowing ended up exceeding her expectations. “I think I found myself as a person again through that. It was super empowering and such a positive boost to my self esteem. It completely changed my life. It was amazing.”
At the time the number of rowers at SRA was much fewer than it is today. New rowers were labeled as a novice, but were thrown in the boats with more experienced rowers, because there weren’t enough people to justify additional coaches. “I was terrified. Everyone was so sweet, but I felt like they just hated having me in the boat,” she said.
In the summer, SRA hired a new coach to manage the novices. Floss was put into his group and immediately felt more empowered. After a full summer of rowing with this new coach, “I remember he took me one day and handed me over to the experienced head coach and said ‘I can’t do anymore with her- here.’ That made me feel like I had graduated and I was qualified to be in this group. It made me feel like I belonged there , and even though I had a lot of work to do, I had the inspiration to keep trying,” Floss explained.
Floss noted that before coaches like Tom Woodman and Lee Henderson came around, SRA’s coaches were constantly changing, particularly in the 5am time slot, and some weren’t always the best fit for the program. Floss says the more consistent coaches like Tom and Lee have been lifesavers by providing stability for their groups. She moved from 5am to the mid-morning team, and now rows independently as she tries to keep a shoulder injury at bay. Her physical therapist says she can still row, but movements like carrying a single, rolling a shell into slings, and other similar tasks can cause pain.
Rowing instilled so much confidence in Floss, but she continued the sport because of the people she met along the way. “The friends I have made are great. It is so nice to go out on the water with somebody,” she said. Not only did Floss continue rowing, but her children, Ben and Maggie, did as well. They had grown up seeing her rowing. Floss often “dragged” her kids to Masters Regionals where they would help out by carrying oars or just play on the beach.
Floss didn’t push them into the sport, but encouraged them to try it out. Maggie started in 8th grade and instantly loved it whereas Ben took a little bit more time to be fully convinced that this was the sport for him. Once he got into shape, it clicked. “It gave them self confidence and another set of friends. They weren’t into the whole social scene of high school, so it was neat that SRA had kids from many different schools. No one came in with a certain image,” Floss reflected. Junior rowers form incredible bonds because they go through incredible moments together whether it’s suffering through a workout or winning a race.
Ben and Maggie thrived on the team, and even though their mother described them as quiet kids, they both ended up being team captains. This sport is ideal for forming the best of relationships, because teammates see each other at their best and worst moments. Floss was pleasantly surprised to see their leadership skills develop as well as their physical selves as they gained muscle and learned to live active, healthy lives through rowing.
Aside from being a rower and junior rower parent, Floss served on the Board of Directors and found that her role helped keep her informed about everything that was going on at SRA . In 2006 the capital campaign for the new boathouse launched. For years progress was off and on. Pivotal people came and went. Floss and her husband Tony Andrews, didn’t want all this work to slow down . The two were pivotal in keeping the new boathouse project on track. “I was worried the project would stall. The motivating factor for Tony and I was to not let the work of historical people in this club go to waste,” Floss explained when asked what motivated her to be so involved.
Walking into our current facility is still exciting for Floss. She feels a sense of awe when she walks down the path and sees the Hod Fowler Boathouse appear around the corner. She has had such wonderful memories created during her time at SRA. Winning a pair race at Masters Nationals by 11 seconds in 2006, attending SRA Galas with friends, coming to boathouse cleanups, and watching her children race were just some of her best memories here.
When she started, Hanna was looking for an identity of her own. Almost 20 years later and she has become a special part of our community and devoted member to our mission. Floss, like many others, has spent so much time making this organization better because she believes in the values and impact of SRA. People like Hanna make impacts that last and are remembered forever- hers certainly will be.