Reprezent…98201. I haven’t talked a lot about that half of my blog’s title in a while so here ya go.
One of the awesome parts of living in Everett is the beautiful locale. You can head down to the [salt] water and go boating, fishing, kite boarding, wind surfing, kayaking, you get the picture. You can drive 45 minutes and go for a hike in the Wild Sky Wilderness Area. Or you can experience our local views from a crew shell: hop over the Snohomish River via Hwy 529, hang a right, and drive just past the Everett Animal Shelter and you end up at the shellhouse for the Everett Rowing Assocation (ERA).
Two years ago, Ben and I were settling in to our house (we’d moved in the previous August) and we wanted to plant a garden. We bought the wood, built some raised beds, and borrowed a truck to go out to Cedar Grove to get “good dirt” as my grandmother calls it. Good dirt in the truck, we headed back home. Or at least tried to. We couldn’t figure out how to get back over the Hwy 529 bridge to our house and ended up seeing signs for Everett Animal Shelter. We jokingly said to each other that we should see if they had any huskies (dear friends had just visited and they have a Siberian). When we made it to the shelter, we noticed there was a shellhouse across the street. Crazy! Who knew Everett had a rowing club? Being ex-collegiate rowers, we got a little excited even though we knew there wasn’t time in our busy lives at the time.
Long story really short, someone had brought in a Siberian Husky THAT morning not two hours before we showed up. That was the morning we met our sweet pup Maya. I’ll tell the rest of the story later because this post is about rowing.
But that isn’t how I ended up coaching rowing for ERA. The awesome guy I coach basketball under at King’s saw a sign up at the school he teaches at and suggested I call them to see if they needed a coach. This was last winter (January 2012) and Ben and I were brainstorming how we were going to make ends meet once I stopped working the following fall. I checked out their website, saw a posting for a job coaching the masters (rowers age 27 and up) in the fall, and emailed the director. I told her I rowed at SPU, was a public school teacher, and had experience coaching high schoolers. She emailed me back *really quickly* and asked if I would consider coaching middle schoolers. I was ECSTATIC! I was totally intimidated by the idea of coaching adults and didn’t even know they needed a middle school coach. She asked if I could start the following Monday (I was still coaching basketball!) and I said I’d start as soon as basketball was over.
The rest is history as they say – I love love love coaching for ERA!
My first session (the middle school sessions run 8 weeks at a time) I was the head coach with an assistant who was a master’s rower. It was a great way to [literally] get my feet wet. The second session – late spring 2012 – I was getting pretty pregnant so I dropped to assistant which was great because it gave me a little more wiggle room with my awful commute from Seattle. This fall was my third session and I was back to being the head coach. It was interesting finding someone to watch Serafina 3 afternoons a week once Ben went back to work after his paternity leave but it has totally been worth it.
It is such a pleasure to teach kids how to row, work on their overall physical fitness, and develop their character as they come together as a team. I’ve now more than a year into my “tenure” as ERA’s head middle school coach. While basketball will always be my first love sport-wise, there is something about rowing that you can’t quite put into words. The feel of the boat gliding through the water, the oar in your hand (ok, fingers if we’re getting technical), the power of up to 8 rowers driving their legs down as one, the crack of the blades into the water before a stroke, the clunk of the oarlocks in unison on the feather…and you get to be outside in God’s wondrous creation. Even when it’s raining…it’s a truly beautiful sport.
What makes this such a great job?
I have an amazing assistant coach who is essentially a co-head coach. He is patient with the kids, we get along really well, and he has the best rowing stories. And is happy to share them. Just ask!
The high school novice and varsity coaches are wonderfully welcoming and patient with the new middle school rowers and challenge the more experienced ones. They are excited that we have a robust middle school team and enjoy asking us who they should be watching as they come up through the ranks. I also got to row with the varsity women the other day which was a blast.
ERA’s boatman – aka repairman extraordinaire and one of the founders of Everett Rowing – has been so awesome to teach kids when the opportunity arises. He also encourages them to be self-sufficient: the other day, they were getting a boat out to slings and they were doing it all themselves…coxing, carrying the boat, getting out the slings, everything. As we watched them do this, I’m biting my nails and he’s quietly watching with a smile on his face. They successfully put the boat on slings and he walks out to them to tell them what a great job they did. So cool!
I have an awesome boss. She was incredibly accommodating when I had to commute from my teaching job in Seattle and it was her idea to have me drop to assistant when pregnant in case I was too tired/sick/etc to get to practice. It helps that she has a little one but still…that is pretty great. And unexpected. I have learned a lot from her and she has pushed me in my leadership skills. What a blessing.
The kids! Holy cow! They are SO MUCH FUN! People think I’m crazy for loving coaching middle schoolers but it is a blast. Come join me for an afternoon and you’ll understand. They are young enough they want to learn from you and old enough to listen and apply it. Well, most of the time. 😉
And last but not least…I get to be on the water 3 days a week. How cool is that? I get paid to drive around a launch (an 8ish foot aluminum boat) to make sure kids don’t crash into anything as they row up the Snohomish River into protected wetlands. Mount Pilchuck towers behind them as we head up one of the sloughs (pronounced “slews”) and the sun sparkles off the water. Or it rains and it’s fabulous water to row in. Really, you can’t lose.
So…you should check out rowing. No matter your age. Rowing is one of those sports you can do your entire life. Really. Contact me if you want info on ERA’s learn to row classes and I will get it to you! If you’re intimidated, I’ll come down to the shellhouse with you for your learn to rows. Seriously. And if you live somewhere else, contact me anyway and I will track down where you can learn to row. You won’t regret it!