Bainbridge Island Rowing
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Sage Advice for Novice Rower Parents

Sage Advice for Novice Rower Parents from a One-Year Veteran

I’ve been there. I was there just about twelve months ago. New to the world of rowing, our family went through the relative shock of novice year and slowly figured things out. But you can take advantage of my experience and the following sage advice for novice rower parents.

  1. Get a drawstring nylon bag. In it go the water shoes, the bottle of water, and a light rain jacket. Maybe a phone and headphones. That’s what your kid takes to crew.
  2. Open the bag after rowing. Better yet, train your kid to. You have to get the wet stuff out of the bag and let it dry overnight. It’s a good idea to have two pairs of water shoes so you can rotate them and give them a chance to dry. Never go to bed with the bag still closed.
  3. Carpool. Share the drive time. You’ll be happier.
  4. Your kid will begin to speak in a language you don’t understand. If you don’t know what the following terms mean, don’t worry. One year from now, you will. Here they are: cox, erg, power 10, sweep, scull vs. shell, stroke seat, four vs. quad, the launch, check her down, set, swing it, way enough, catch, feather, at the catch, hot seating, stroke rate.
  5. When your kid tells you that he or she caught a crab, don’t panic. It’s not that big of a deal, it’s not a health issue, and it happens to everyone.
  6. Go to the grocery store. You’re going to need a lot more food at home. Make sure there’s plenty of protein and fresh fruit.
  7. Blisters. They will happen. Although your logical brain tells you to get some gloves for your kid, don’t. It’s just not what you do for reasons I still don’t understand. Keep the blisters clean and make sure they don’t get infected, and in time they will callous over.
  8. Even though the end time for practice is 6:10 p.m., when you drive to pickup bring your phone so you can play Candy Crush for a while. The coach decides when practice is over and it’s rarely exactly at 6:10.
  9. Encourage your kid to row all four seasons. That way, they don’t have to start all over again each season with the blisters and the getting back in shape.
  10. Spring season is the busiest. Fall season eases you in gently so you can build up to spring. Enjoy the fall.
  11. Procrastination is contraindicated for rowing. Encourage your kid to stay on top of homework. 
  12. Use the website. It’s packed full of information. The tabs you will be most interested in are Programs > Juniors > and all the pages listed there; Calendar; Logins; and Contact. Logins will take you to the two Facebook pages, both of which you will want to visit frequently, to the iCrew registration page, and to the Spiritwear store so you can get yourself some team gear for regattas. Under the Contact tab you’ll find the Parent Leadership Team and the people you’ll need to turn to with questions and the Coaches and how to contact them.
  13. Volunteer. This ship doesn’t run itself, and it’s a big ship. Plus, volunteering will help you make sense of the sport faster and give you important connections. To volunteer, watch for opportunities posted on the Bainbridge Rowing Parents page and/or visit the Regatta Kitchen page to sign up for kitchen duty.
  14. On the day of a regatta, plan to eat lunch at 10 a.m. You’ll be ready for bed at about 8 p.m.
  15. Don’t expect you’re going to see anything at a regatta. Regattas are notorious for being difficult to follow. Your kid will be rowing several miles from you, but you may get a glimpse as the boat leaves for the race start or crosses the finish line. Maybe. But even then you won’t be sure which kid in the boat is yours. It doesn’t matter. Ring that cow bell.
  16. For every regatta, pack warm clothing, rain gear, food, reading material, and computer and phone chargers. Ninety-five percent of the time you will not be watching your kid. Better yet, volunteer for kitchen duty. That will make the time fly by.

Most of all, remember through this novice year that it is worth it. Rowing is an amazing sport that, as we like to say at BIR, changes lives. It will change your kid’s life and, along the way, possibly change yours too.

Do you have your own sage advice for novice rower parents? Add it to the comments section.

Article by Sarah Lane.