October 22, 2015 | Sports
This past Saturday, Oct. 17, the Dawson Rowing Team hosted friends, family and the Dawson community at the Montreal Olympic Basin to raise funds by giving participating donors a chance to learn to row in an eight-man boat. The event raised much-needed money in the face of recent budget cuts to athletics and introduced this storied sport to newcomers.
The day was cold and the weather was changeable but more than 60 people undaunted by the climate showed up to learn to row.
To begin, the rowing machines were set-up outside for “novices” to learn and practice the basics of rowing. Dawson rowers coached and encouraged participants in the techniques of rowing. It became evident that the legs, back, arms motion and then the reverse is a mental game to start with and as the body creates a memory, it becomes a physical game.
Once on the water the fun really began. Getting in and out of a $40,000 boat requires a careful balanced approach since one misplaced foot can punch a hole in the boat’s shell. Next it was taking instructions from the cox, the person in charge of the boat on the water. The cox steers the boat with hand-held ropes and through a microphone, uses a distinctive vocabulary to give rowers their orders.
There was a strong wind blowing Saturday afternoon which increased the difficulty for new rowers. Keeping the boat in a straight line was a feat all of its own. A few boats ended up zig-zagging 4 or 5 kms on an arrow-straight 1 km course!
Laughter, smiles and fun were the order of the day. To a person the experience of being on the water with seven other rowers was greatly appreciated and one that many agreed they would like to do again.
Throughout the chilly afternoon, homemade minestrone soup was served to keep rowers warm and a barbecue was cooking up hamburgers and hot dogs for chilled rowers as they came off the water.
It was a very successful day. The Dawson community was treated to a unique experience hosted by Coach Joe Rochon and his team of rowing ambassadors. This team is positive and committed. Their initiative to bring the community in to help with fundraising is an example of the commitment of this team to ensure its winning tradition for Dawson.
As an example, last year at the CSSRA Championships (Canadian Secondary School Racing Association) Dawson College rowers, against a national field of schools, many of which row everyday each week, won two fifth place national finishes in women’s light four with cox and men’s single scull.
This year, due to a reduction in funding, Dawson College was not represented at the storied race on the Charles River in Boston. However, in two weeks, the team will represent the College in Saratoga Springs to compete in the final race of the season, the “Head of the Fish”. In this competition, there are crews from all over the Northeastern US, including many of the “little ivy” league universities.
As a final note, the learn to row day at the Olympic Basin, through the generosity of the participants raised desperately needed cash to support the team this semester and next. With the funding cuts to education little remains for athletics, along with other teams, Dawson Rowing’s budget was slashed to the bone this year. Undaunted the rowing team knows that their leadership, athletic achievements and ambassadorial skills will bring recognition to Dawson College’s reputation, within and outside Quebec.
One final note: the fundraiser allowed the team to purchase a 10-year old eight boat in great condition. All boats generally are given names by the team: this one will be christened the “Brian Morin”, in honour of Dawson Rowing’s inspirational and long-time head coach.