The summer before my freshman year at Boston University, I received a recruiting letter from the head coach of the crew team. Apparently, I was the right height and weight for their heavyweight freshman boat. Little did he know what poor shape I was in, having spent the previous four years of high school studiously avoiding sports of any kind, preferring instead to hang-out with my hippie friends in the school's art studio. The jocks on campus called me "magilla gorilla," after the corpulent protaganist of the animated series by the same name, who spent hours languishing in the window of Mr. Peeble's pet store eating bananas.
Anyway, rowing on the Charles River sounded cool, so I gave it a try. Little did I know what was in store for me. Working out on the river, indoors on the ergometer, and spending the winters lifting weights and running stairs, the later exercise with twenty pounds of sand sealed in an old halved rubber inner tube draped on my shoulders, I got in shape real fast. I subsequently transferred to Amherst College in my sophomore year and spent three more years rowing, earning my varsity letter.
Imagine how delighted and proud I was when my daughter Anna, a sophomore at the Waynflete School in Portland, rowed in her first crew race yesterday. When she rowed away in her novice four to the starting line, tears came to my eyes.
So what if Waynflete came in next to last? They hung in there throughout the race, despite the stroke catching a crab in the first 100 meters. Anna was a happy girl when she got out of the boat and hoisted it up to her shoulders, walking it back to the rear with her teammates. Afterwards, I gave her a big hug and told her what a great job she did.
There's a rowing club around here somewhere, isn't there? Maybe it's time to get back in a boat myself.
(DSH Photo: Anna, Meghan, and Hannah before the race; Amoskeag Rowing Club, Hooksett, NH; May 9, 2009)