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True Confessions of a Female Motorcyclist

One motorcyclist and now rower/coxswain's perspectives on life.

Leaving A Legacy With Dc Strokes

Posted by katecraig , 30 May 2013 · 1,361 views

Leaving A Legacy With Dc Strokes Just a handful of days until DC Strokes kicks off their sprint season by hosting their Stonewall Regatta on Sunday, June 2nd. Boat after boat after boat will race down the Anacostia River, all seeking the same goal–victory. A weighty, shiny gold medal to take home along with a year’s worth of bragging rights.

But as fun as regatta days are, they are the culmination of the hard work of many members of the team’s leadership over the previous year and beyond. Securing sponsors, recruiting other team participation, hiring referees, etc. are just some of the responsibilities. However, these leaders do so much more than check items off a to do list. They serve as mentors to new rowers like myself. They encourage me to always do my best and assure me that with hard work, I will succeed. It’s because of these people I have found a home with DC Strokes.

Arend Fish is the current President of DC Strokes, serving since 2012. This is his fifth season with DC Stroke, fourth with the competitive team, and is traveling with the team (and me!) to Belgium in August to compete in the World OutGames.

Under his leadership, all of the DC Strokes rowing programs have grown. We are able to put so many rowers in boats and be competitive on the water.

I asked him what his favorite part of rowing was and he said, “when the boat is set, and everyone is rowing together, the rhythm, the sounds, it’s almost hypnotic.” Come check us out on Sunday if you’ve never heard it or need a reminder because I have to agree. The sound of 4 or 8 rowers (depending on the size of the boat) all moving in sync is amazing and after a rough practice could feel like a miracle. But in those moments, anything feels possible.

Brett Freeman is the Development Director on the Board of Directors for DC Strokes. He’s also served on the Stonewall Regatta Organizing Committee. He began rowing in 2011 and after his novice year joined the Strokes competitive team where he has raced at several local and national regattas, including the Head of the Charles in Boston, MA. Like Arend and I, Brett is also traveling to Belgium for the OutGames.

“[Rowing] is both a personal and team sport at the same time,” Brett said when I asked him what was his favorite part. Like other sports, rowing is a lot of self-improvement and enjoying serenity on the water while at the same time learning to work as a cohesive unit to move the boat as quickly and efficiently as possible across the water.

At a regatta a few years ago, Arend said he heard a coxswain motivate their boat by shouting, “don’t let the gays beat you.” But because of the work these two, as well as other leaders in the team, society is evolving. As proof by the marriage equality laws now in eleven states and the District, people are fighting for LGBT rights. Arend was also proud to say that his boat beat the boat with the coxswain shouting homophobic remarks.

For these two and  other members of the team, they’re looking forward to being out on the water competing in a sport they love on Sunday. While Stonewall is the only US Rowing recognized LGBT sponsored regatta, it is an event for everyone. It’s about coming together, not just LGBT pride, but pride in rowing and good sportsmanship.

The success of DC Strokes is due to the hard work of many, members who have come and gone over the years, giving their blood, sweat, and tears to the team, like Brett and Arend. These athletes and other volunteers have ensured that me and the rest of the crew team have a place to call home both on and off the water.

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