by Bess Alshvang
Believe it or not, there are a few people working at Row New York who have never put an oar in the water. This past Saturday, we changed that – along with a huge group of other newcomers to the sport, three of our office-based staff members participated in their first-ever Learn-to-Row! On a beautiful summer day, Kristin Taylor, Akeelya McKenzie, and Tyler Kraus found out that an erg handle is nothing compared to an oar. Coached by our very own Matt Logue, Director of Community Rowing, and Catherine Hicks, Manhattan Novice Assistant, they worked together to move the boat (well, the barge!) through the water.
Looking back on the experience, Executive Assistant Akeelya McKenzie said, “I could feel the blisters forming, but I couldn’t let go of the oar! The sun was scorching my skin and I didn’t have any sunscreen, or a hat, or sunglasses, but I was super focused on keeping count, and straightening my arms, and hinging from my hips, and pushing back from my legs. I imagined invisible strings connecting my limbs to the the guy in front of me so the oars would move as one oar in and out of the water. I realized several things in my first few minutes on the water. Firstly, rowing on the water is crazy fun! It’s much better than erging (of which I am a secret fan). Secondly, Matt is a fantastic coach. Thirdly, Scott [MacPhee] sitting beside me in a barge giving me side eye because the oar handle practically has to touch my chin at the finish position for the oar to be submerged in the water really makes me feel short. Finally, and most importantly, I’ve gotta do this again! ”
Operations Coordinator Tyler Kraus found out what it means to coordinate with a boat of rowers! “Learn to Row was a really great experience! It was nice to finally get out on the water and experience first-hand what our organization is all about. I can’t lie, the rowing itself was tough: I got blisters, my back hurt, and my body was sore from erging before I even got on the water; but I powered through it and had an amazing experience. A couple times I found myself distracted, gazing out at the river and its surroundings, and had to jerk myself back to reality before my oar got too far out of sync with the rest of the boat. There were a few collisions of oars, and a couple of times my back went into the handle of the oar behind me (which happened to be my girlfriend’s, so I couldn’t get mad!), but otherwise the rowing went very smoothly. Catherine was an amazing coach and it was cool to see her do her thing out of the office.”
Chief Operating Officer Kristin Taylor loved being out on the water: “Having the opportunity to participate in the Learn-to-Row was a lot of fun! Being out on the water in the early afternoon was a great way to spend a summer day; it was so beautiful and peaceful. It seemed intimidating at first, but once we got on the water, our entire group soon got the hang of the strokes and fell into a comfortable rhythm. It was both challenging and soothing at the same time. Being on staff at Row New York, it was great to have a chance to briefly experience the sport that our student-athletes devote so much time and energy to. I can see why they love it!”
Thanks to everyone who attended! It was an amazing day and a SOLD-OUT Learn-to-Row!!
We can’t wait for the next LTR on July 25!