What rowing brings to youth athletes

Role models are a huge part of athletics, specifically for women, as female athletes aren’t highlighted as often as men.

What are your hopes for the next generation?

And more importantly, what kind of experiences today will help our youth succeed in building strong futures? What if you could give them the feeling of being surrounded by role models — supported, dedicated, accomplished, confident, and part of a community?

This is what rowing at Vashon Island Rowing Club (VIRC) brings to youth athletes.

This year, VIRC has grown considerably, and 18 youth athletes, three women’s boats, and two men’s competed at the US Nationals in Sarasota, Florida. (See page 9.)

The number of athletes going to nationals this year is more than the total on the team in 2018, when they started rebuilding.

Role models are a huge part of athletics, specifically for women, as female athletes aren’t highlighted as often as men.

Rose Ely, who competed at Nationals, said she loves the environment in the girls’ team at VIRC: “I especially love the way the girls on the team are always there for each other.”

Ella Odegard, another rower at Nationals, said she looks up to the older girls on the team: “They are all hard workers who make rowing at VIRC so much fun every day. In everything they do, you can tell how much they care. They make sure everyone feels valued and included.”

VIRC’s coaches have been a huge part of rower Gwyn Ranney’s experience on the team.

“I’ve never been in a program [like VIRC] where I can really tell the coaches care,” Ranney said. “Aidan [Teachout], Ben [Steele] and Delany [Steele] are the best coaches I’ve had, and I appreciate everything they do to make the community at VIRC great.”

Rowing at VIRC comes with an extremely supportive and encouraging environment — just one of the reasons why athletes like Quentin Cherry love it.

“The VIRC team has been like a second family for me, always there to support me in whatever struggles arise, from rowing to school,” Cherry said. “The sport itself is fun, challenging and very physically intensive. The people are what tops it off as by far the best sport I’ve ever done.”

“The camaraderie has made me much more outgoing and confident,” rower Tyler Davis said. “After [my first] nationals, I began to really devote myself to the team and come out of my shell.”

Liv Ormseth, a senior and current team captain, has been rowing since eighth grade.

“It’s not only about the sport, and how that changes your view of yourself; the ability to push beyond your previous limits, and a love for hard work and suffering,” she said. “It’s about the people. It’s a huge family who you work hard alongside, and a connection to a huge network of people through a larger rowing community across states and even the country.”

“I am beyond excited to go to Nationals this year. I had a year-long back injury in my junior year that I honestly did not think I was going to recover from. My whole senior year, I have been immensely grateful just to get to be in a boat, with my team, and doing what I love most.”

The opportunity to race at US Nationals takes dedication and many hours of hard work, a journey Odegard doesn’t take for granted.

“The opportunity to race at US Nationals has taught me what it’s possible to achieve when you’re surrounded by people who support you, and that’s a lesson I’m very grateful for and will always remember,” Odegard said.

These positive impacts on our youth are significant. Helping rowers achieve their goals will lead to a better future for all of us.

The scale of athletes competing at nationals this year is a huge accomplishment, but it also presents a financial challenge. You can help support these amazing athletes from VIRC at vashoncrew.com.

Selene Dalinis is a youth rower for VIRC.