While at home in the Bahamas during our winter virtual term, Liz Hall ’21 has been teaching underprivileged kids to row at her local rowing club. At St. Andrew's, Liz leads V Form girls on Mein Dorm, serves a Head Admission Ambassador, and has been a dedicated member of St. Andrew's girls rowing team for her three years at the school.
I'm teaching through a program called Learn to Row set up by my home rowing club, Nassau Rowing Club, which is the only rowing club on the island of New Providence, and one of only two clubs in the entire country. We're a small, fully outdoor club on the only rowable (brackish) lake on the island. Our coach has done a great job of working with the government and through advertising [to spread word of mouth about the program]. This winter six-week block of sessions has had our highest participation level yet.
All of the kids I've been working with had never been in a boat before, so we've started with having kids on the ERGs [rowing machines], then moved into tubby rowing shells on a tether, and then into double scull boats with me coaching from behind, and eventually into boats by themselves, with me in a launch boat coaching from the water. We also do some fun core and cardio circuits when capacity is too much on the water.
I think the kids who are participating are really getting a lot out of this. Two weeks ago, the mother of a young boy who I've been working a lot one-on-one came to me and said that she's noticed a shift in his demeanor, mood, and sociability since he began rowing. It's been amazing to see kids like him come out of their shells. A lot of the kids are hoping to working toward trying out for the junior team, which would allow them to row more frequently, and then later, work towards rowing in regattas in the United States.
I started rowing when I arrived [at St. Andrew's] as a new sophomore in 2018, and it's helped me in so many aspects of my life—which is why I decided to start the [college] recruitment process after my novice season. I'll be rowing NCAA Division 2 this fall! I've had the same experiences through rowing as it did for the boy I've been working with—it was a sport that gave me a team, and allowed me to focus and refine both my mental and physical skills, whether I'm rowing alone in a single, double, or in an eight on Noxontown Pond.
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