Row New York is a unique non-profit organization that combines intensive rowing activities with comprehensive academic support to empower youth in New York City to pursue excellence in all facets of their lives.
Ian Terrell is Row New York’s Manhattan Middle School Coach. Coming from Alexandria, VA, Ian says the sport of rowing has played a huge part in his life since middle school. He coxed in middle and high school, was recruited to cox for Trinity College, and spent a few summers in-between his college years coaching at his high school boathouse.
”During the summer, that’s what all the kids did in my area, the alumni are expected to come back and coach– you pay it forward.”
His local boathouse provided a “sense of belonging” — this structure he rowed out of meant more than simply a place to store racks and boats. It was a place to socialize, connect with friends, and of course, compete and row. This feeling of community sticks with Ian to this day, and he sees this same social dynamic playing out with his Row New York athletes.
Rowing was a central force in Ian’s development so he understands what this sport can do for our Row New York’s student-athletes. He believes in rowing’s ability to build a strong work ethic as well as instill critical life skills like teamwork, discipline, and tenacity. That said, he also stresses that while he and his colleagues can provide the opportunity to learn and grow from this sport, it is up to each student-athlete to show up, tune in and bring their best effort. He acknowledges it is not an easy sport; it is demanding. But the rewards Ian has experienced first-hand, as well as what he witnesses in his students, is worth every single erg workout, sore muscle, and blister. His athletes learn what real teamwork means by working towards a common goal: moving the boat fast! They develop tenacity and discipline.
“Any kid who shows up 6 days a week is going to be able to get into a good college–that kid has discipline because they apply themselves.”
Having rowed and taught at the college level, Ian strongly believes in providing the same quality of instruction to his students regardless of where he is coaching.
“Part of my mission is to build a bridge between those who have resources and those who may not; if I coach differently, that’s not fair. I am going to coach a Row New York student the same way I’d coach a kid who is going to a $60,000 school.”
For our athletes, that means learning an amazing new skill set… as well as acquiring a few blisters along the way.
Row New York chats with Patrick McNerney, CEO of USRowing, about the future of diversity and inclusion in the sport of rowing.
Waterside Chats are your chance to listen to Row New York’s informal conversations on inclusive and competitive rowing. That’s right, inclusive and competitive. They are not mutually exclusive. There’s nothing better than the marriage of the two!
Who will you hear from at Row New York?
Usually, you’ll hear from Amanda Kraus (Founder and Executive Director at Row New York), Jennie Trayes (Deputy Executive Director), or Arshay Cooper (Chief Program Officer and author of Suga Water). Occasionally others from our boards or team may join the conversation.
At the Row New York boathouses, Thursday is Boathouse day, which is a day for maintenance, repairs, and various behind-the-scenes work at the boathouse to keep them running smoothly for rowing. Although there is always a plan for the day (the tasks that need to be done, the problems that need to be fixed), boathouse day is also about “putting out fires” as they appear.
This Thursday, the first task found at the PJS boathouse was that a launch became untied from the dock, rose with the tide overnight, and got stuck on a rocky shore when the tide fell. The easiest solution was to leave it until the tide rose again, but that wouldn’t be until much later in the day, so the launch was left alone for the morning.
As the tasks were given out for the day, another unplanned problem was found – a shell on the top shelf was only just balanced on the rack and looked like it was about to fall off. It was quickly moved back into place, but this solution was short-lived as the problem was soon discovered to be the fact that part of the shell was not balanced on the rack in the first place. Solving problems and avoiding future issues is the main theme of boathouse day – in addition to the big tasks above, a shell was missing a bow ball and the oars needed to be re-organized.
The rest of the work involved labeling oars, re-taping oars with the correct colors, making sure there were enough life jackets in all of the boats and other tasks which had to be done for the boathouse.
When we go to rowing practice after school, many of us don’t realize the incredible amounts of work and effort that go into keeping a boathouse maintained and running throughout the week. Most of the time, the efforts of the boathouse team go unnoticed, so a huge thank you to the whole boathouse operations team, our coaches, and the group at PJS yesterday – Bailey, Ricky, Jackie, Nick, and Ian!
March has come and gone, hopefully taking the last of the winter with it. Last month, our teams transitioned between indoor and on-water practices. At the beginning of the month, our three boathouses came together for the last winter 2k opportunity. The student-athletes aimed to beat their personal records and helped their teammates do the same. You can see photos from the scrimmage here.
As the weather improved, our crews rigged their boats, dusted off their oars, and got back on the water. Our seniors have continued receiving their college acceptances while our juniors completed their SAT prep course. Congratulations to the juniors who have already retaken the exam and improved their scores.
We hope to see you at our upcoming races!
College and Beyond
Student-athletes learn about the college admissions process and potential career paths. The Academics team hosts the Row’d Map to College every year to demystify the college admissions process. Our high schoolers and their parents attended workshops about financial aid, athletic recruitment, and more. After the college admissions workshops, parents got together to discuss racing this spring and to learn about the Parent Coach Association. The annual Young Men’s and Young Women’s Professional Dinners gather our student-athletes for insightful nights of storytelling and advice from professionals in a range of industries. The panelists have dinner with our student-athletes and answer questions about college, careers, and life.
The Metropolitan Youth Speed Order was the first regatta of the spring. This race gave our crews an early taste of the racing to come. The athletes will now refine their skills and racing strategy before Row for Autism on April 14th.
Welcome to Row New York’s new Chief of ProgramsWe are pleased to welcome Row New York’s new Chief Programs Officer (CPO), Olger Twyner lll. He comes to us with years of experience in youth development, social justice, and public interest work. In addition to his vast experience, he brings an unassuming, measured, and thoughtful presence to our team.
MEET OLGERSUMMER TEEN ROWING CAMPS REGISTRATION NOW OPEN
Rowing camps are a great way to spend time outdoors, discover an exciting new sport, and make friends, all in the heart of New York City. Camps available for novices and experienced rowers.
The annual Harlem River Classic is your chance to dust off your uni and get back on the water. Join us at New York City’s only regatta on May 18th for a day of racing and fundraising. Sign up as an individual or a team captain; team captains are required to put together an entire boat.
Coach Patricia Destine was looking into different programs and organizations to join the summer before her freshman year of high school, when she saw a video about Row New York called “Because I Row”. The sense of family it inspired in Patricia sticks with her to this day. She describes the feeling she got from watching it: “I WANT THAT!!”.
Patricia has been involved with Row New York in one way or another since that fateful day. She rowed with us in high school as a student-athlete; she chose to volunteer with the Middle School Program when her studies became too overwhelming to row with her team; and finally, as she continued her studies at City Tech College, she joined our staff in 2016 as the Assistant Middle School coach. The consistent theme underscoring all levels of Patricia’s involvement with Row New York is “I love this mission, and I want to give back”.
As anyone who has taught middle school knows, this can be a tricky age– that transitory stage between being a kid and becoming a young adult, with all of the ups and downs that come with growth. During the first weeks of middle school programming, Patricia takes a wait and see approach. She believes in patiently watching, allowing the kids to reveal their personalities. What she does not do is lump her students into stereotypes. She works every day at connecting with each of her athletes on a one-on-one basis. “Middle school is hard, but I worked at seeing them as individuals rather than a collective group. Each of my student-athletes is going through changes at different times, and those changes can whipsaw back and forth. And though some days I am not sure exactly ‘who’ I will be dealing with, seeing them grow as a person is amazing and rewarding.” She continues: “If I have a kid who doesn’t fit in at school, I try to find a way they can fit in. There is no place for bullies here. I want them to feel comfortable and looking forward to rowing with us.”
And that is how Patricia measures her success: Did they have fun and do they want to come back? Every year our retention rate improves, and much of the reason has to do with coaches like Patricia.
Row New York’s Adaptive Program holds special importance for Carolina Quijada. Both she and her sister Tania participated in Row New York’s Youth Program throughout their high school years. In 2012, when the organization launched an Adaptive Program for people with cognitive and physical disabilities, Carolina and Tania’s youngest sister, Ivonne, who has Down syndrome, had the opportunity to step off of the sidelines and join the team.
As an alumna who volunteered with the organization’s novice teams, Carolina was the perfect candidate for coaching the newly formed Adaptive Program. When Ivonne joined the inaugural Row New York Adaptive Program, the whole family—including Coach Carolina—piled into the car and came out to support her on her first day of practice. “I brought everything I learned from Row New York’s Youth Program to our athletes in the Adaptive Program. We are all athletes here,” explains Carolina, summing up her strong belief that when her athletes step into a boat, they deserve the same respect as any rower without disabilities.
Certainly, there are safety issues to take into consideration when teaching kids with disabilities, but her bottom line? She is a coach, they are her athletes, and she expects from them what every coach wants from their team: discipline, dedication, and teamwork. As Carolina underscores, she has taught teens and adults from different backgrounds with different challenges, but when they step into a boat, they are rowers first and foremost.
The Metropolitan Youth Speed Order was the first race of the spring. It gave our crews an early taste of the racing season and will help them refine their skills before their next race, Row For Autism.
We are pleased to welcome Row New York’s new Chief Programs Officer (CPO), Olger Twyner lll. To say that Olger is qualified to serve as our CPO is a vast understatement. He comes to us with years of experience in youth development, social justice, and public interest work. His path to Row New York started in his home state of Mississippi, where he attended Jackson State University. He moved on to acquire a law degree from Ohio State University, and finally rounded out his formal education by receiving an MBA in Public and Non-Profit Management from Columbia University (and somehow, he found time to become proficient in both French and German)..
In between these impressive milestones, Olger practiced public interest law for seven years in Mississippi; he started the Community Collaboration Project developing and implementing projects designed to promote economic and educational progress in under-resourced communities surrounding Harlem and Morningside Heights; As Executive Director of the Double Discovery Center at Columbia University, he focused on academic programs, college placement, and personal development services for over 1,000 low income and first-generation college-bound students, including Columbia College’s Upward Bound and Talent Search Programs. Olger has work on behalf of under-resourced communities his entire professional career, with an emphasis on education, entrepreneurship, and social justice.
In addition to his vast experience, he brings an unassuming measured and thoughtful presence to our team. When you see Olger at our programs and events, please reach out, introduce yourself, and say hello (or bonjour or hallo).
Ricky Bourke is the Manhattan Novice Coordinator. He might be one of Row New York’s younger coaches, but he has rowed for longer than just about anyone else on our coaching staff. He picked up his first oar in middle school after getting cut from a soccer team for the third time (which he admits is pretty hard to accomplish!) Ricky then continued rowing through high school and was recruited to row at Trinity College.
Ricky loves competing, and although rowing can favor people taller than his 5’10” frame, he strongly believes that hard work and determination can yield amazing results. Given that he won a Junior National Championship and has competed at the Royal Henley Regatta, he can attest to what grit can accomplish.
Ricky believes that good coaching is less about talking to his student-athletes, and more about providing the right environment to help them mature as both athletes and young adults. Guiding by example, prioritizing safety, providing support, and helping to create a team mentality are all critical aspects to his coaching style.
Though fast boats are not the only end goal, Ricky believes in creating a healthy, supportive, and competitive environment among his students and between teams. That competition can push athletes to develop critical lifelong skills––discipline, tenacity, endurance––that can be applied to academics and the pursuit of any goal.
Our student-athletes are asked to show up for every practice, and with willingness to row, to improve, to learn. If one team member fails to show up, it impacts the entire boat during that practice. If one team member does not have his “head in the boat,” that entire crew is impacted. Ricky expounds on this thought:
“One thing I have learned, is that one can talk to the kids and try to impart knowledge, but it is really up to them to put in the hard work. Rowing is not easy. The kids need to show up on time, and with the right attitude. They have to put the work in to get anything out of this experience.”
This is a thought echoed by all of our coaches––they provide the environment and the space to grow, but ultimately, it is the kids who must do the hard work in order to see the benefits.
“Seeing the kids develop not only as rowers, but as people is cool to watch. But it takes time.”