Letter: Celebrate rowing in 2014
Posted on Jan 29, 2014 - 01:02 PM Printer Friendly View
For what seems to me to have been only a few years ago, my son and daughter were both members of the Mathews High School Crew Team. It was not a sport that had been offered for many years at the high school, but our children who had both been “water babies” since birth and loved being on the water had made their minds up to row!
Now that I am writing this and consider all that has changed over the years, it was definitely more than a few years ago! Anyone familiar with the beginning years of the rowing program in Mathews or for those who have heard the stories of those years are quite aware of the program’s humble beginnings. By the time my children were rowing, there were more than two shells, the old buildings that housed the equipment had been given a few coats of paint, and uniforms were being donated from some kind individual who just wanted to help us out.
Anyone who has ever watched a crew race may question why a child would want to commit themselves to such a schedule. Traveling to the races gave us part of the answer … the accomplishment of a goal, winning numerous races, realizing that all of the practice had paid off when you crossed that finish line in the lead amid parents screaming until hoarse “Go Mathews … Go!!!” It was intoxicating.
More than just the competition is the art of the sport. To watch the rowers in unison place those shells in the water and push off from the dock, place their oars in position and together as one glide across the water is true teamwork. The race begins, headed down the race course, their shells nose to nose and only by a few strokes ahead of their competition, gliding over the surface of the water as though they were skating on ice. Awesome!
The crew team in Mathews has known from the very beginning that an up-to-date boathouse is not a requirement, nor do you have to own the most expensive shells, nor state-of-the-art facilities to be a good rower.
You do have to practice diligently and love the sport. We have lived with that knowledge, we have held the course with many goals in mind and in 2014 we will begin to reap the “frosting on the cake” when our boathouse construction will begin.
Not only will the construction begin on the boathouse, but an anonymous donor has started an endowment fund, “The Friends of the Mobjack Rowing Fund,” under the Mathews Community Foundation. The purpose being to support the general operating needs the Mobjack Rowing Association and to ensure its needs for years to come. There is also a Facebook page to provide a site for not only alumni but for everyone who may be interested in becoming members and joining the fun.
There are so many individuals who deserve much more than a simple ‘Thank you’ for all that has been done to make this dream a reality. There is no way I could name all of the groups, boards, anonymous contributors and alumni for the decisions made to make this dream come true. Tim Ulsaker, for your expertise in developing the sport of championship rowing in Mathews as well as surrounding communities, your love of the sport, your untiring determination to coach our children not only in the sport but life lessons that have carried them on to be responsible adults, thank you.
In celebration of the MRA and rowing in Mathews, Virginia, I urge everyone that feels the passion … join in the work to be done. Send a donation to the Friends of the MRA Fund, join in the Association. To our youth who are considering rowing, give it a try, and to those in our community who have not had a chance to get involved, just drive down to the Wharf and enjoy the day. What a great way to begin 2014!
Mary Callis Pope