• Coach Knickerbocker

Love the Game (Rowing)

Updated: Feb 22, 2019


"Love the game.

Love the game for the pure joy of accomplishment.

Love the game for everything it can teach you about yourself.

Love the game for the feeling of belonging to a group endeavoring to do its best.

Love the game for being involved in a team whose members can't wait to see you do your best.

Love the game for the challenge of working harder than you ever have at something and then harder than that.

Love the game because it takes all team members to give it life.

Love the game because at its best, the game tradition will include your contributions. Love the game because you belong to a long line of fine athletes who have loved it. It is now your legacy.

Love the game so much that you will pass on your love of the game to another athlete who has seen your dedication, your work, your challenges, your triumphs... and then that athlete will, because of you, love the game."

---Anonymous


There are three lines that stand out for me in this piece.

1. Love the game for everything it can teach you about yourself.

2. Love the game for being involved in a team whose members can't wait to see you do your best.

3. Love the game so much that you will pass on your love of the game to another athlete who has seen your dedication, your work, your challenges, your triumphs... and then that athlete will, because of you, love the game.



Love the game for everything it can teach you about yourself.

There certainly are other activities in life that can teach you about yourself, but there is something about rowing that is a unique combination of learning about yourself and learning about others who are in the same exposed and vulnerable situation that really makes a statement.


When you're an adult and you're learning something new that is physically demanding and highly technical, it can be challenging. But when you're an adult learning something new that is physically demanding, highly technical, and requires you to do this with other adults in a boat and with the same timing (ideally), it's a whole other story.


That "whole other story" is the part that is the most personally expanding piece.

One must be able to look at themselves and be willing to develop their character in order to bring greatness to themselves.


As you expand in fitness and technical ability so you expand in patience, resilience, dedication, fortitude, humility, etc. You CANNOT experience physiological and technical growth without experiencing character growth. If you think you can then you may be missing one of the most pivotal elements of rowing.

As in missing the forest for the trees.


Or if you don't like the trees idiom then how about looking a gift horse in the mouth. The gift is not only physical and technical development and improvement, but the gift of learning about yourself. The gift is the rare opportunity, as an adult, to be exposed to yourself, through yourself.


Yes, adults CAN experience character development just as much as kids or young adults can. You just have to be open to developing the part of you that is your character, just as much as developing the part of you that is physiological and technical.

It's not just your body that's sitting in the boat.

It's that indescribable part of you that longs for meaning.


Honor that part of you.


Love the game for being involved in a team whose members can't wait to see you do your best.

I truly hope that you are on a team that indeed can't wait for you to do your best. If you are it can be the most wonderful experience in your life to know that you are fully supported to achieve whatever you want to achieve in your rowing. Knowing and feeling that your success is just as important to your teammates as theirs is to them is fantastic. Those boatmates, those women, are the embodiment of the word team.


If, on the other hand, you are not on one of these teams then it's something to examine.


Why aren't your boatmates wanting you to be as successful as you possibly can be? Isn't that what will make all the boats faster? Are they protective of their status on the team or in the boat? Are they afraid you may steal their seat? If any of this is the case then that's more about them and their internalized insecurity than you getting in their way.

Any rower that in fact wants to see the TEAM be competitively successful, and is secure in their training, their technique and their mindset, has no reason to not support and help to bring up another rower. Full stop.


Consider this in the context of #1 - Love the game for everything it can teach you about yourself.


There may be those around you that are not interested in learning about themselves. There may be those around you that are not interested in exploring how rowing, or becoming a better rower and competitor can change their view of themselves from the inside out.


Those that are unable to accept the challenge of growth that must occur to become better at anything are unable to help others to grow.

These are people who are not ready to pass on their love of the game.


As long as you are on a team with women that honestly want to see you do your best just as much as they want to do their best, you are in good stead.



Love the game so much that you will pass on your love of the game to another athlete who has seen your dedication, your work, your challenges, your triumphs... and then that athlete will, because of you, love the game.

Pass on your love of the game.

How do YOU do that? Ask yourself this question.

How am I passing on my legacy to other masters women?


This matters.

This matters because personal ethic matters.

This matters because club character matters.


What you pass on to any other rower, be they novices or veterans, will say something about who you are and therefore who the club is.


How is this demonstrated n the case of newer rowers?

A myriad of ways, including:

Helping out when novices are in the boathouse.

Introducing yourself to any new members and offering to show them around the boathouse.

Participating in learn to row days.

Rowing in boats with novices because you remember when you were one and how hard it was and because you want to model to them what they should be doing next year when the next crop of newbs shows up.

Showing novices how to rig and load and tie down.

Supporting them when they attend their first regatta.

Cheering novices on when they are erging.


I could go on for a whole other blog on the myriad of ways to pass on your love of the game to folks that are new to the sport. How you, as an experienced masters woman, share your love of the game (rowing) establishes a connection to the next group of women masters and so on.


You want her to see "your dedication, your work, your challenges, your triumphs...".

This is how she will feel that she can actually do this thing that is physically demanding, and highly technical and personally expanding, because there is another woman showing her the way.


Do you share your challenges with the other rowers around you? Especially with newer rowers? Newer rowers may not realize that rowing veterans with more experience struggle too. They may not realize that you are still working on your catch or your roll ups or your steering or whatever it may be. When you share this with them it creates a bond that is based on a shared experience. Which then in turn helps them to realize that this is a process (the rowing) and that you really never get it done.


And that's OK!

That's the best part of it! That's rowing!

That's you sharing your love of the game


Instead of seeing you, the experienced long time rower/competitor, as some bigger than Everest athlete that they will never reach. They see you as more similar to themselves. A summit that they may actually be able to attain someday. By explicitly sharing your challenges you're creating a relationship with them that says:

"Hey, I'm really no different from you. In fact I was you (fill in the blank) years ago."



So what lines stand out for you? My homework for you is to pick three lines and reflect on why those lines that stand out for you. Maybe they speak to you because it's something you want from rowing, or because it's something you've lost, or because it's something you want to offer to a teammate or to your crew.

Then, talk with another woman masters rower on your team or in your boat about why these things matter to you. Pick someone that you want to pass something on to or that has passed the love on to you, but do this.

Do it over coffee after a morning row. Or over a beer after a regatta.

But do it.


Why you ask?

Because it matters.

Because there's more to this than technique or rigging or what seat your sitting in.

Because this is exactly how you show your love of the game.



Row hard, Row well, Compete, Have fun!

Coach Knickerbocker








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