I admit it.
Any sport that requires me to get up before the sun is not a sport I could get into. It would rob me of my beauty sleep.
But I couldn’t pass up the chance to see a sport most Americans don’t see or participate in – the sport of rowing, or crew as it is often known. My son coached the a boat named “Cre8 Havoc” to the Women’s Masters National Championship (shown practicing in July 2006) and recently accepted the job as head coach of the high school boys program for a major club in Orlando. (Be sure to click on the photos to see a larger version.)
The kids were there before dawn. After a warm-up run of a few miles, they set out the gear and launched their boats. These boats are not cheap – the club was taking delivery of a new one while I was there. It cost a mere $24,000.
There were two boats working out that morning, each with high school aged boys whose parents pay for them to be in the program – a program that has been known to produce champion rowers who get college scholarships. This is neither an easy sport nor an inexpensive one. I was intrigued to watch how competitive the boys were, even against members of their own team. They wanted to be faster than the other boat.
Coaching is a head game. Most sports are as much about an athlete’s mental powers as about physical ability. To see if the rowers could keep their minds sharp even when the body screamed in pain, the coach finished with a top speed session – and constantly stayed on them about keeping technique. There’s also a mentality of being tough. Yeah – a baseball player might go on the disabled list with a hang nail, but these guys are more like hockey players. This young man had fallen during the warm-up run and gotten some pretty good scrapes. That wasn’t going to stop him from bustin’ his buns on the lake.
Of course, the work isn’t over once the boat is off the lake. It has to be washed first. It was interesting to note how careful they were to be sure no soap got into the lake. Their environmental concern was good to see. Once things were put away, the team still had to endure a skull session with the coach as they discussed technique. You can see how enthralled the kid in the middle of the picture is with all the talk.
He wanted to be back on the water.