Either oar propositionA BHS athlete enlists rowers for a new crew club.
June 9, 2008 · Updated 7:46 PM
"When Elizabeth Bailey, a BHS junior, launched herself off a trampoline last summer at a swim team get-together, she had no idea she was about to launch a new island club. She landed awkwardly, broke her thumb, and had to bypass the season because her cast prevented her from entering the water.So she began hanging around the Lake Washington Rowing Club. Pulling an oar put no strain on her thumb or the cast.She enjoyed it so much that she and Kacy Hamilton - who had previous experience with Lakeside School's summer program at Pocock Rowing Center - put a notice in the school paper to see if any of their fellow students might be interested in starting a similar group. When more than 50 responded, the girls enlisted their parents' help.Thom and Karen Hamilton and Stan Bailey answered their daughters' appeal.With the aid and support of several other parents, the Bainbridge Island Rowing Club came into existence last fall. Thom Hamilton eventually became the president with Karen Hamilton as treasurer. John Hempelmann, whose daughter Ashley is a BIRC member, filed for non-profit 501c3 status and wrote the articles of incorporation - not a small feat, says Karen Hamilton.The group hopes to encompass all areas of rowing interest.With the juniors' program already under way, BIRC plans to hold a public meeting in the near future to begin a masters (ages 27 and over) program.We're definitely a work-in-progress, Bailey says, taking a break from what is an almost daily round of rowing-related phone calls and emails.Karen Hamilton echoes the sentiment. This is all pretty intense and time-consuming, she says. We'd really like to get a lot more people involved as volunteers.What they have accomplished to date is impressive.The BIRC already boasts a flotilla of two eight-oared shells plus one four and plans to acquire several additional boats. With new boats easily costing $25,000 and more, other rowing clubs and the Pocock Foundation have been generous in their assistance to their fledgling Bainbridge cousins.BIRC bought their first eight from the Green Lake Rowing Club for $2,700.They were great, Bailey says. They delivered the boat for the cost of ferry fare.The tab for the four was just over $1,000 from the Lake Sammamish club.BIRC hopes to acquire several more boats and Green Lake is also offering a used trailer which would carry the entire fleet for $5,700. The shells are so light that one can pull the trailer with a van or a pickup, Bailey says. To help fund this ambitious program, BIRC has submitted a grant proposal to Rotary. Car washes and other fundraisers are in the works. Karen Hamilton emphasizes the tax value of cash donations.And Pavilion owner Jeff Brien has agreed to a benefit screening of two crew-related films. A shell in the theatre lobby will add visual interest.The Human Performance Center has helped by purchasing six ergometers, the deluxe rowing machines, is contributing space and are developing a training program for participants.And there is the problem of storage. Eights are more than 60 feet long and even fours surpass forty.For now, the boats are on the beach at fellow director Dan Gunn's waterfront home adjacent to the group's current training area in Rich Passage.But the water there is too unpredictable, Bailey says. We have to deal with tides, ferry wakes and rough water.So BIRC hopes to move into a more protected locale and eventually find a permanent site to store the boats and equipment. So far, the organization's most visible element is the early-morning rowing sessions on Rich Passage involving BHS students. Coached by Linda Brandt and Jay and Sue Trinidad, the group's co-captains are Adam Smith, Adam Gunn, Anna Greist and Keisha Eremic. Smith, the lacrosse team's leading scorer, illustrates the lengths to which the kids will go in order to participate.I get up at 5 a.m., he says. I row, go to school, play lacrosse, come home, eat, do my homework, go to sleep and I'm ready for another big day.This energetic attitude is the main reason that Jay Trinidad helps out. I volunteer for the love of the sport, he says. The kids are enthusiastic, otherwise I wouldn't get up at five in the morning.Trinidad picked up the sport as an adult, rowing with the Seattle Yacht Club's adult rowing program. His wife was a coxswain at William and Mary, and later coached at Michigan State University.The de facto head coach, Linda Brandt, rowed at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo and currently keeps active with her single scull in Port Madison.We're taking baby steps because this is our first year, and we go a little further every week, she says.She's excited about the likelihood of the masters program joining the juniors' group.I'll definitely be a participant once that gets going, she says. We're looking for people to help put this club on the island.The first action for the high school crew may come next month at the U.S. Rowing Association Northwest Junior Regionals in Vancouver, Wash., though both Brandt and Trinidad are cautious.Brandt points out that because it's a regional meet, most of the novice crews the Bainbridge rowers would face already have several races under their belts.The most important thing is for the kids to develop the fundamentals, says Trinidad. Rowing isn't a natural movement.The fact that they are even considering making the trip is testimony to how far the program has progressed in a few months.I think we're here to stay, Trinidad says.For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org. "