Buffalo Bayou Rowing Center
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What Rowing means to Me
Board Member Chantal Avery's take on Rowing
Chantal Avery
The summer before my junior year of high school our family moved to a suburb of Chicago, IL. After unsuccessfully trying out for the basketball team, the rowing coach found me crying in the hallway and convinced me to give the sport of rowing a try. I had seen the sport in the Olympics but never imagined that it was something I could participate in, let alone in high school. After learning the history of the sport and the technique I was hooked! Rowing has been a love of mine ever since my first day on the water.

After several couple successful practices without flipping the boat and a few regattas, the conversation of college came up. Once we learned that several schools offered scholarships for women’s rowing, I went to every rowing camp that my summer could fit. The hard work paid off. Despite having rowed for a short amount of time,  I was offered rowing scholarships for several different schools. 

I choose to row at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and it was such a great experience. Having the foundation and structure of a rowing program while in college allowed me to row and focus on academics and succeed at both. . Rowing is a sport that I have carried on with me beyond graduation and truly enjoy following.

Rowing is a sport that teaches you individual discipline and hard work. You trust and are truly relying on your teammate for the same amount of effort that you put in. You’re working together for the common goal- to move the boat smoothly and efficiently.  On the water, everything that may divide you or differences you may have do not matter. The bond that you find as a team is unbreakable and you row towards the team's success.

Susan Lynn's take on Rowing and what it means to her family
David Alviar
Our family’s passion for the sport began when my husband’s job found us on the East coast. My son came home one day and announced he was going to give rowing a try. It took one sunrise on the water and he was hooked. The ability to participate in a sport that had him out in nature, working with a team and getting fit made it an easy pick. We then found ourselves moved back to Texas and I was quite concerned that he would not find a home to participate in the sport he had grown to love in his two short years in Virginia. We were delightfully surprised to see the sport growing and thriving on our Texas waters. In fact, there is an advantage for Texas rowers in that the climate allows for more time on the water than some of our more Northern competitors.  
I could not have chosen a better sport for my son to be a part of. Long practices have taught him the importance of hard work. Managing morning and afternoon practices taught him scheduling. Most importantly it taught him team work. Rowing is not a sport that allows for one star in the boat. Everyone has to work hard or the team can not succeed. The camaraderie built by the team mates working together on the boat taught my son that as a team you work hard for yourself but also for something bigger, the team.  
My son now rows for the Clemson Tigers in South Carolina and the gifts of the sport keep on giving. Being part of a team has helped the adjustment to college. The discipline and high expectations of this sport have resulted in dean’s list recognition off the water. He has traveled across the country rowing and representing first Texas and now South Carolina in the sport and has a sense of pride in this accomplishment.  
My son would have gone to college with or without rowing but I don’t know that without a sport his adjustment would have been as succesful. Dallas is doing some great things with their rowing program. They are bringing in young people from all over Dallas to row. It opens up one more sport for our Texas students to participate in on the national scene. More and more colleges each year are offering scholarships for rowing. The University of Texas is a prime example of a the rise of rowing in Texas. The women’s program has in just a few short years risen to be one of the top in the nation. The sport is growing and Houston’s youth could benefit from the lessons it brings. I know our family has.

David Alviar's take on Rowing and what it means to him
David Alviar
Rowing has introduced me to my best friends, the people I most admire, and a greater variety of experience and cultural backgrounds than any other passion in my life. My coxswain was a Boston-born Pakistani, my pair partner was an Irish-Ethiopian giant, and my best friend was a small-town-Texas gay athlete. The diversity of our team is common to rowing team across the country; no matter what we believe, how we politically align, where our families come from, or who we choose to love, rowing teams are places of acceptance. This acceptance is what makes boats win; it allows eights to meld and flow together, fours to act as one unit, and pairs to steer straight.  
I didn’t come to realize how important these lessons from crew were until after college. The tolerance crew gave me for accepting other people’s way of life and genuinely being interested in those differences gave me the mental and emotional resolve to handle diversity in my job. I now actively seek out friends because of their uniqueness, backgrounds, and experiences that separate distinguish them from my life. Not only does this enrich my own experience but also prevents one of the biggest problems: getting stuck in your own in-group.  
In-groups are often echos. They only repeat what you already know, believe, and feel. The out-group is where new ideas are discovered and fresh opinions made. Crew taught me to seek out the out-group, embrace those differences, and be better for them. Even though rowing might have the stigma of being a white-elitist activity, it is anything but in the 21st-century. Crew will introduce you to a unique mix of new kinds of people all bound together by acceptance for who you are as you are in order to make those boats row smoothly, race fast, and win.

David Alviar is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Accelerate Learning, Inc. He is a graduate of the University of Texas with majors in economics, philosophy and Spanish, was a corps member in the Houston Teach for America in 2009, and is world record holder in the Guinness Book of World Records as a member the first trio to cross the Atlantic Ocean east to west. 

Karen Man's take on Rowing and what it means to her
Karen Man
Rowing really embodies the ultimate team sport and racing together creates monumental friendships. The boat relies on every member, functioning as one unit with many limbs, requiring coordination of mind and body. It taught me discipline, perseverance, built stamina, and kept me emotionally pliable. When we tired, we had a team of support to keep each other going. Had it not been for rowing, I may not have been able to weather the test that was my 20s. Even when not on the water, the erg (rowing machine) gives immediate feedback. Sometimes, that split (how fast I was or was not going) did not reflect how much effort I put into each movement, but there would be no choice but to finish or face the defeat of giving up before I should have. My body would teach my mind to be stronger. 
There are not words that can truly express what rowing means to me and how it has shaped my life. What I do know is that I would not be who I am today without it.

Karen Man is a Houston Restauranteur and former rower at the University of Texas.

What Rowing means to Me
Stay Tuned for our next installment!

BBRC in the media
Group rows against the current as it tries to build Buffalo Bayou Boathouse
Houston Chronicle - July 17, 2017

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