On July 30 my wife and I had the honor and privilege to attend the First Annual USRowing Diversity Invitational. For those of you who have never been to Rochester, I highly suggest you make a visit. I honestly felt as if Rochester is the friendliest city I have ever been to. Upon arriving to city limits, we quickly found the park that is the home to the Genesee Waterways Center. I was immediately impressed by all the activity at the park with kids playing in the pool, athletes completing a triathlon, a playground filled with active people, and I hadn't even made it to the Genesee River to see the rowers!
When I reached the river, DAP member and USRowing Inclusion manager, Richard Butler, was giving the final prerace instructions and pep talk. He stressed how this was a historic event and hoped that all the competitors and spectators understood and appreciated what they were witnessing. After he was done, it was time for the boats and rowers to hit the river. In the morning session the competitors raced the clock and in the afternoon, they did a series of match races. USRowing's CEO, Glenn Merry, was also in attendance to show his support for the event and its competitors.
DAP member Lydia Boddie-Rice of Cross Currents Minority Rowing needs to be commended for running such a well-organized event. On top of all the work she and Richard did on land to make this event a reality, she was also an important cog to the Cross Currents 8-person team, as she competed in both the morning and afternoon sessions.
Richard stressed the family atmosphere at rowing events and this was very evident as everyone just seemed happy and upbeat about being involved in such a worthwhile endeavor. One statement he made in reference to rowers was that he could meet someone for the first time and 15 minutes later they are hugging as if they had known each other their whole lives. And that was definitely the feeling in the air in Rochester. One other thing Richard touched on is the rich Civil Rights history of Rochester. Frederick Douglass is buried not too far from the Genesee Waterways Center in Mount Hope Cemetery. It was also the home of Susan B. Anthony and many others who fought the battle to end slavery in America.
The 2012 date for the Diversity Invitational isn't set yet, but the location is, it will be back in Rochester! Diversity in Aquatics will be there again and I hope more of you can attend either as a competitor or a spectator. They have plenty of boats at the center so you don't have to worry about transporting your own equipment.
Here are some photos from the event.