The many hours of training, early mornings and grueling land and water workouts paid off this weekend for the Oakland Strokes Rowing Program as they put on a powerful performance to take a record breaking 18 medals, and advance a total of 7 boats to the USRowing Junior National Championships.
The Varsity Women’s team put on a commanding performance to medal in every event they entered. This performance, combined with the success of the Women’s Novice team led to a win the Women’s Team Points Trophy by a convincing margin over cross bay rivals Marin.
The Varsity Women’s Head Coach, Allison Dobb Ray, Associate Women’s Head Coach Anita Sarrett and Strength Coach Frank Clayton were clearly delighted with the outcome of the team effort.
“We are so proud of the Varsity Women and their performances over the weekend. It’s exciting to have so many boats moving onto Nationals! I am most proud of the team performance - winning the points trophy speaks to the strength of our team and the team culture the team has worked so hard to build.”
The longstanding rivalries in the Varsity Men’s programs made for some intense races, with Newport, Marin, Capital and Oakland battling it out in nail biting finishes. The determination of the Oakland Men prevailed, allowing them to qualify three of their boats for Nationals and set the stage for some fierce competition in Sacramento in June.
As the Varsity Men’s Head Coach, Brian De Regt noted, "We're very pleased with how the boys handled themselves through the season and rose to the occasion when it mattered most. Watching the JV8+ overcome regular season losses to Capital and Newport to win the Championships in a commanding fashion was the highlight, but the most gratifying part of the weekend was watching our athletes learn what can happen when they fully buy into the process, and discover just how much they're capable of."
As ‘no-cut’ program, the success of the Oakland Strokes program is a testament to the commitment and work of the coaching staff at both Novice and Varsity levels. Established in 1974, the Oakland Strokes rowing club welcomes middle and high school students from across the Bay Area. Many of the athletes who are heading their first, second - or even third - National championships had no rowing experience before joining the Strokes. Instead, most come through one of the summer ‘Learn to Row’ sessions or joined as novices in the Fall. The team heading to Nationals has an eclectic mix of athletes - some who have rowed since middle school, while others joined the program as High School Juniors.
What unites them / what makes the program so special, according to Managing Director Dana Hooper, is the transformative power of rowing. “ Rowing rewards hard work more than any other sport I have seen. It is a sport that allows a diverse group of young men and women to come together and learn to work as one, and ultimately achieve goals that are greater than they ever could have achieved individually.”
Meanwhile, for the top athletes on the Varsity teams, the real work is just beginning. There are blisters to bind, oars to unload, and boats to launch as they start the next stage of their journey to the National stage.