Advice for a parent whose child is taking up rowing.
Why rowing is a fabulous sport – let me count 15 ways!
15 Reasons to be Grateful by A Rowing Parent
(Random impressions from a rowing parent from a small rowing club.)
- Rowing is fun. Imagine learning to balance on a skinny boat that barely clears the water and then suddenly moves really, really fast. Now imagine being transported super-fast with only the sound of slapping water and gliding mountain scenery.
- When you join up it doesn’t matter where your fitness level is. And it doesn’t matter whether you can catch or kick a ball. The only thing that matters is that you are committed to slowly building your fitness and honing your technique incrementally to enjoy the results in months and years to come.
- Imagine a true team sport. The team fails if it cannot work together and keep its rhythm. Your offspring will learn to respect and enjoy the company of others that they would not necessarily spend time with in ordinary life. They will bond over the importance of food before and after aces.
- Your rowing offspring will wake up in the mornings at times you never thought possible. In fact, teens can cast off their genetically programmed sleeping-in gene, embrace the mornings and even comment that the early morning exercise helps them concentrate at school. You think I am lying ….. I am not, I have heard rowing teens talk about this in the back of my car. I was not hallucinating.
- Your rowing offspring will say “it’s not that cold” when you drop them off at the rowing shed when it’s minus 4 degrees. You go home and have a quiet nervous breakdown but know that they always come back alive and kicking (and hungry, REALLY hungry).
- Your offspring will embrace the wonder of New Zealand merino in the form of woollen socks that keep their warmth despite occasional sneaky bits of water negotiating past gumboots when getting into boats at the lake edge.
- Parents quietly rejoice: Teenage parties that go way too late are hard to mix with rowing practice the next day.
- Your rowing offspring meet other rowers from other schools. They will meet all sorts ….. the beefy, the nerdy, the quiet ones (watch out), the bossy, the obsessive, the tall, the petite – to mention just a few. Fast rowers really do come in all shapes and sizes and this blows the stereotype of the ‘ripped’ athlete to bits.
- Rowing parents get to sit on the gorgeous grassy verge of stunning rivers and lakes, drink coffee and eat excellent bacon butties. And then if you want to, you can bike along the lakeside to watch the boats glide incomprehensibly fast and you marvel at the utter fabulousness of these wonderful young people.
- You can stand at the finish line and scream like an idiot for your club’s team and no one bats on eyelid. No one cares that you are yelling like a madman at the water’s edge. No one.
- You learn that www.rowit.co.nz is the best athlete database in New Zealand. Possibly in the world.
- You learn of wonders of chocolate milk for recovery after your offspring’s race. For your offspring … not you, silly… coffee is the best recovery for extreme spectators.
- You will be utterly grateful to the ‘backwards’ sport for the confidence it instills in your offspring and their team mates. You will get to watch these wonderful young people grow and develop. However, long drives to regattas involve an immersion into teenage music and some snippets of gossip. This is good and bad; mostly good but I have heard more K pop that I would ever want to in my life.
- You marvel at the commitment and professionalism of the volunteering infrastructure that keeps the sport going. From camps mothers, to volunteer coaches, to uniform organisers, to the wonderful old ladies manning the coffee and sandwich stands, to the race umpires and commentators, school minivan drivers ….
- You soon learn that they and you all have something in common apart from rowing offspring. It is this: An utter respect for this wonderful sport. It’s a sport that enables young people to grow and develop in ways that many of them never thought possible.
So thank you to all those wonderful people keeping the sport afloat (sorry, can’t resist the pun) and an enormous cheer to the rowers themselves. It’s a privilege to know you.
With thanks to Rob Bruce and Wanaka Rowing Club Parents