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August 21st, 2014

Richard Butler of USRowing, Visits the Area



USRowing’s Inclusion Manager, and the Director of America Rows, Richard Butler, poses with Newburgh Rowing Club Summer Campers and coaches at the Newburgh Rowing Club.
NEWBURGH - On July 31st, USRowing’s Inclusion Manager, and the Director of America Rows, Richard Butler, visited with the coaching staff of the Poughkeepsie High School Crew Team and the Hudson River Rowing Association in Poughkeepsie, NY, toured the Summer Rowing Camp at the Newburgh Rowing Club, and then spoke to a crowd of rowers, coaches, and others at the Newburgh Jewish Community Center, where he was greeted by the Honorable Judith Kennedy, Mayor of the City of Newburgh.

“I was very pleased that I could meet the rowers and coaches of America Rows Newburgh and see the summer camp in action,” said Mr. Butler, “as well as hear about the great programs going on in Poughkeepsie, where they have the potential to become another America Rows affiliate.”

America Rows Newburgh is the scholarship-based rowing program of the Newburgh Rowing Club, said Juliana LoBiondo, Director of America Rows Newburgh.  Since 2009, Mr. Butler has served as the Inclusion Manager for USRowing.  Said Coach Ed Kennedy, Director of Programs at the Newburgh Rowing Club, “I was very pleased to have someone so high up at USRowing out in the motorboat with me during summer rowing camp, so he can see firsthand the good work we are doing here in Newburgh.”

“One of the things that impressed me the most about the Newburgh Rowing Club’s Summer Rowing Camp was the mix of age groups who were all working together.  There were kids as young as 8 to 10 in a boat, mixed in with middle schoolers and varsity rowers.  I was also impressed to see the high school rowers in the boat repair bay at the Newburgh Rowing boathouse, working alongside the coaches.  I have visited many boathouses throughout the country, and love to see the rowers come together as a ‘family.’”

“We were very pleased to host this informative talk,” said Debbie Sanford, Executive Director of the Newburgh Jewish Community Center.  “We would like to do some joint programs with the Newburgh Rowing Club in the future.”

During his talk at the Newburgh Jewish Community Center, Mr. Butler explained the role of America Rows in the rowing world.  “Essentially, we want to expand the pool of people who are rowing.  If a young soldier comes back from the War without legs, why shouldn’t he be able to row?  With adaptive rowing programs, he can.”  He posited the question:  “How many rowers can see the finish line when you start the race?”  Since all rowers are rowing “backwards,” no one raised their hand.  “A blind person can’t see the finish line either, so this is a perfect sport for them to enter.  Adaptive rowing can accomplish that.”

“One of the things America Rows Newburgh does best, is include Water Confidence clinics into their rowing programs,” said Mr. Butler.  “A lot of minority youth in urban areas are told:  don’t ever go near the River and don’t ever cross the railroad tracks.  And where are most boathouses located?  On a river, across the railroad tracks.  So building up water confidence is key to expanding rowing programs in an urban setting.”

“We will be expanding America Rows greatly with the inclusion of adaptive rowing programs, and with a new fundraising campaign, so that we can get grant money to our affiliates.”

During the question and answer period, Mr. Butler was asked what advice he would give to someone who wants to pursue high school rowing.  He answered:  “At the end of the day, USRowing is looking for fast boats.  Think of it as a simple formula:  Tenacity plus Mastery equals Success.  Now let’s have all of you rowers go get after it like you mean it.” For more information on the Newburgh Rowing Club, visit www.NewburghRowClub.org.

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