New Rowing Program Popular at Voc Tech and High School Gymnasiums

New Bedford rowing program looks to hook kids
By Charis Anderson

JP Hogan and Carolyn McGonagle put on a rowing demonstration Tuesday at Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational-Technical High School in an effort to recruit participants in New Bedford’s Community Rowing program. Peter Pereira

NEW BEDFORD – Carolyn McGonagle is passionate about rowing – and as the new director of New Bedford’s Community Rowing program, she wants to spread her love for the sport to as many people as possible.
“I didn’t get exposed to rowing in high school,” she recently told a group of students at Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational-Technical High School. “We want to make sure you guys are exposed and have the opportunity. … It’s a sport for life.”
The rowing program is a collaboration between Brighton-based Community Rowing Inc. (CRI), the city, the Harbor Development Commission, the New Bedford Economic Development Council and Community Boating of New Bedford, according to McGonagle.
“It’s exciting to get people out into the Acushnet River again, and something that we really think will lead to a tremendous enhancement of quality of life in this city,” Mayor Scott W. Lang said.
The initial focus of the New Bedford effort will be on a learn-to-row program for high school students that will start next month, but eventually McGonagle hopes to have competitive teams and classes for adults, as well.
“We’re basically going to follow the model that CRI has in place … (but) I want to make sure we’re building the program for how it’s appropriate for the area,” she said.
McGonagle, who has been on board for just a few weeks, spent a day at GNB Voc-Tech last week, telling students about rowing and demonstrating the technique on four ergometers, or ergs, with the goal of getting them to sign up for this summer’s pilot programs.
“Does anybody know anything about rowing?” she asked one group of students.
“Never even heard of it,” called out one student.
“You need a boat,” shouted another.
Despite the lack of experience with the sport, a number of students clambered onto the ergs to try it out, and many students signed up with McGonagle, indicating they would potentially be interested in participating in this summer’s programs.
At an earlier demonstration day at the school, about 125 students signed up, McGonagle said.
“To get that kind of response was amazing,” she said.
During each three-week session – the first one starts June 7 – students will meet twice a week and learn how to row on the Acushnet River.
The program will cost $25 per participant.
“New Bedford has a lot of water,” she said. “We want to get all the kids we can out on all of that water.”
CRI Executive Director Bruce Smith said the organization was applying for grants and seeking private donations to support its programming.
“The response has been tremendous,” he said. “It’s bringing new resources into New Bedford to help bring the community to the water. … We’re not cutting the same pie into smaller pieces. We’re making a bigger pie.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the rowing programs that will be offered in New Bedford can contact McGonagle at or (508) 717-4013
May 26, 2010 12:00 AM
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