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Saturday, March 22, 2014

LESSONS FROM A CREW MOM

 In 2013, I had the distinct honor of being featured as one of the “Crew Moms of the Year” by USRowing, the governing body of the sport of rowing, thanks to rower Frankie Maurice.   This was truly humbling, as there are so many deserving crew moms out there.  To give the general public an idea of what the mantle “crew mom” means, let me borrow the intro from USRowing’s piece on Crew Moms:  “Crew Mom is no ordinary mom. She wakes up early and stays up late – preparing, collaborating, organizing and perfecting. She shuttles sons and daughters to the boathouse for practice. She travels to regattas. She deciphers the race schedule. She waits. She cheers! You can find her at the team tent, stirring a big pot of [fill in the blank] on a chilly morning. Or with the race volunteers, selling tickets and t-shirts, or parking cars. Crew Mom does it all. Maybe she is your mom, maybe not.” – USRowing May 13, 2013

               Spring Crew Season in the Hudson Valley starts today, with the indoor meet.  This year, Mrs. Lo will be a program director, for the America Rows Newburgh program.  My oldest (who got us all started in the sport of rowing)  will be playing travel basketball for the Newburgh Panthers AAU team this spring; and Michael, at age 10, is in the Learn to Row program, which is non-competitive.  I still have a lot of work to do for crew season, but it is in the nature of grant-writing and fundraising to keep the program alive, marketing and publicity to keep it in the public eye, and taking 6 kids to the America Rows Mid Atlantic Regatta in Baltimore the first weekend in May.  And of course, I will help out where needed.  My biggest food project will be the Lasagna for the Eastern NYS High School championship in May, which is the largest athletic event in the City of Newburgh, bringing in over 1,000 people.  For all the new crew moms and all those considering becoming one, here is Mrs. Lo’s advice for spring crew season which, incidentally, can be applied to other areas of life:
1.     FORCE YOURSELF TO REST.  Remember when you had babies and they told you to sleep when your baby sleeps?  The same thing applies to crew parents.  Get to bed early and nap when you can because you will be up anywhere between 4 am and 5 am for morning practice and sometimes 3:30 when you have to be at the Boathouse at 4:30 am.  You know you’re a crew mom when you look at the schedule and get excited about a 7:30 am coxswains meeting because it means you get to “sleep in.”
2.    BREATHE.  And remember you’re human.  You can’t do it all.  You can’t even think about trying to do it all.  You may just say, “so what if all the clothes are the same color?”   
3.    FORGET HOME COOKED MEALS.  Unless you spent the winter canning, preserving and freezing, you are not going to have time to make dinner every night.  Lucky for you, all of your friends are now crew moms and you’re all in the same boat (pun intended).  Anyone who is posting pictures of their homemade food on facebook right now is either a football mom or a wrestling mom but they are definitely not a crew mom.
4.    PUT THE “FUN” BACK IN FUNDRAISING.  More and more sports are finding they have to “self fund” and crew is no exception.  In addition to morning practice before school and pickup from afterschool practice, not to mention the actual crew meets you will be driving to, cheering at and cooking for, many crew parents across the country simultaneously have to fundraise to keep the team going.  Car washes, bake sales, spaghetti dinners, it can be relentless.  Just treat yourself to a Latte, throw your hair in a ponytail and drag yourself over there, chances are you’ll have a better time than you would have ever imagined.
5.    GET OUT AND ROW!  My #1 piece of advice is to get into a Learn to Row class for adults and get out on the water in a crew shell.  It was not until I got out on the water and started rowing that I made the connection – why parents would ever put themselves through all the work and self-sacrifice for this sport.  The truth is rowing is one of the greatest Joys of my life.  I’m certainly no expert and I have no interest in the competitive side of the sport.  But Recreational Rowing is so physically, emotionally and spiritually gratifying, I really am at a loss for words to explain it.  After a particularly good row, when you stop your boat to look at your surroundings, in my case, the beautiful Hudson River and the Hudson Valley, you really will be left speechless.  It was my oldest who encouraged me to get out there and try it and I am so glad that I did.  I have been to indoor rowing all winter and I can’t wait for the warmer weather so we can get back on the water. 
           I love Recreational Rowing in the summer.  The craziness of sprint crew season is over.  I get in a boat with whoever is around, and Michael gets in his rec single and goes out too.  The joy of being out on the water and watching your child, age 10, scull past you is beyond words.  It is the reason I do what I do, and why I work so hard to bring this experience to the Student Ambassadors, who currently make up the bulk of the Newburgh Rowing Club during spring season.  I hope other parents will take advantage of the opportunity and get into recreational rowing too.  For all of the seasoned crew parents out there:  revv your engines, it’s go time.  And for all of the rookie crew parents out there:  hang on and get ready for the time of your lives!

Welcome to Spring Crew Season 2014, everyone, and have a great day!  <3 Mrs. Lo