To kick off the new school year, EBRC hosted a Learn To Row event for the Oakland Technical High School Rowing club on Saturday, September 6. We were delighted to welcome Dana King, Oakland city council candidate, former journalist, and World Class gold medal rower as our keynote speaker.
As a reporter, King won five Emmy awards, but she earned a lot more hardware on the water. King won a gold medal in the 2006 FISA Master’s World Championship along with Peggy Johnston, Dede Birch, and Eileen Hansen — just one of the many medals in a case that King brought to show students.
A latecomer to rowing in her 30s, King broke rowing down for the O.T. Crew and their potential recruits. “It isn’t how strong you are, it isn’t how tall you are, it isn’t how much you weigh,” she said.
“It’s — how big is your heart? That’s what rowing is.”
King pulled no punches when she talked about the pain of rowing. She bears the scars of a dozen years in the boat — stitches from this race, a snapped tendon from that race…but the pain was fleeting.
“It’s a sport of a lifetime, it truly is,” King said. “It’s the most remarkable gift I’ve given myself.”
Rowing becomes part of who you are, she told the Oakland Tech students. It’s how you define yourself, not on someone else’s terms, but on your own. You can tell yourself, “I row hard, I row fast, and people can count on me in a boat.”
And that flows over into life, she said. “This is one of those sports…it is for everybody, but it’s not for everybody.”
“This will be a test of who you are,” she challenged.
Watch the video of Dana King’s full speech:
The O.T. Crew, inaugurated in 2012, is sponsored by EBRC. Program director Gulliver Scott, who coaches the EBRC intermediate squads, described his vision for the O.T. Crew and youth rowing throughout Oakland and beyond.
“It’s a great sport that has a lot to offer,” Scott said. “The community that forms, the bonds that form, really last a lifetime and, I think, are really important.” Twenty years from now, he told the students, he’d love to see them standing where he is now, talking to a new youth crew ready to get out on the water.
The O.T. Crew welcomed back nine returning team members this fall and gained more than 20 novices for the coming season. Go, Bulldongs!