Rochester Rowing Club: Overcoming challenges of COVID-19 crisis

Updated: May 16, 2020 11:40 PM
Created: May 16, 2020 11:37 PM

(ABC 6 News) - "What if?" That has been just one of the questions asked by high school and collegiate athletes who saw their seasons end abruptly due to the worldwide pandemic.

Even though that happened two months ago, it still sits with a couple members, specifically seniors, with the Rochester Rowing Club. Back in March, the RRC was making a push to compete at nationals when their competition season was up-ended. 


"We were close to making it, we had a really good set of numbers on us and so for us that was really hard," Haley Abrams, RRC co-coach, said. "Like we worked hard all winter preparing for that one moment."

This left many asking, what now?

"It really hurts," Lourdes senior and RRC captain Christian Paulik said. "It gets you right in the heart cause it's put a lot of work and effort into it and just have it ripped away in a second like that. It's not a good feeling."

Since rowing is a year-round sport, the team did not stop training and practicing. They adapted like most of the world and went digital, using Zoom for their workouts.

"Online training was really interesting," Anna Stacy, a junior at Mayo High School, said. "It was kind of strange and unusual obviously because we've never done anything like it before."

Abrams was impressed with how the team helped each other and pushed each other through their different means of technology to get ready for their next step. Then a couple weeks ago they were cleared to get on the water. Now, they train in singles to maintain social distance. 

"It was nice to get back on the water," Paulik said. "Even if we all can't be together it's still nice to be in the boat again and get to see some of their faces again."

This is certainly a time in everyone's lives that will not be forgotten, which prompted some of the team to look at their sport, and life, through a new lens.

Abrams said it's almost like taking a step back, "and not looking at all the competitive side of rowing but looking at it for fun, for fitness and getting ready for their next step."

For Stacy, she gets another year to come back and give it her all, but this pandemic has also made her re-think things.

"I think just being a little less goal oriented and making sure to focus on getting better as a rower and enjoying the sport."

As for Paulik, it was about being more appreciative of what he has, adding that, "sometimes the workouts we do can suck, [but] looking back on the experiences that I've had and the friendships that I've made, I realize that even if sometimes it's hard, it's definitely worth it and I'm not going to give up on that."

In addition to their training, the team has also incorporated fun activities such as baking nights, cross-fit workouts, and competitions to continue a sense of community during these uncertain times.

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