Club Spotlight: Holyoke Rows
Holyoke Rows is a non-profit community organization located at Jones Ferry River Access Center along the Connecticut River in Holyoke, Massachusetts. In addition to developing high school programs for youth athletes, the club runs rowing programs for adults as well as adaptive rowing programs for people with disabilities.
As Director of Holyoke Rows, Stephanie Moore exudes dedication and innovation. The Resolute team got to see this first-hand at the BAYADA Adaptive Regatta in Philadelphia on August 13, 2016. Our in-house adaptive liaison and customer service representative, Kate Mouligne, was there to offer support to our Resolute Adaptive Seat customers and watch the first Champions Regatta Race showcasing our Resolute Adaptive Single Racing Shell.
Holyoke had four rowers in the regatta, all with varied rowing abilities and equipment needs. In spite of soaring heat in excess of 100 degrees, Stephanie was not only rigging, but also rowing. She was an on-water assistant to two of the four rowers, once via microphone and once as an inclusion rower helping to steer. In the ten hours of this terrific but tough day in the sun, Stephanie displayed her caring work ethic and a tremendous “all-hands-on-deck” attitude, ensuring an optimal outcome for her group.
From Kate, here’s a spotlight into the rowers at Holyoke Rows:
Joannah Whitney (Trunk/Arms Rower)
Joannah Whitney’s background as an archaeologist lends her a natural respect for the beauty of nature. Her MS condition finds her in need of assistance from others frequently, so rowing provides her with solitude and peace in the great outdoors. Through rowing, she was able to boost her confidence and gain enough strength to row up the river to the HR Bridge North of the club. “I had my sights on it and when I was finally able to do it, it was a huge milestone.” When asked what she liked best about rowing she said “Well, an excessively hot day like today is not that much fun but those fair days with a little bit of breeze and being able to see and hear the birds is such a pleasure.” Her next big goal is do a 5,000-meter race.
We asked Joannah her thoughts on the Resolute Racing Shell and Adaptive Seat. “When using a Resolute shell, it just moves so nicely. Other boats that I use are heavier and with MS there are many challenges, so with a boat that works with you instead of against you it makes a big difference.” Before she got the Resolute seat, she was using one that was flat with no curve, requiring a lot of elaborate padding around her legs. “With Resolute’s seat, though, I am comfortable and don’t need to modify.”
As Barbara Black heads down the race course, it’s amazing to learn that she is completely blind. Her coach, Stephanie, uses a headset to direct her down the racing course while in a different boat. The photos here are of her headed downstream in her own shell guided by the voice of Stephanie. Her service dog, pictured, is Lacey. She and Lacey, when not rowing, enjoyed each other’s company under the shade of the tent on this record-breaking day of heat.
Jim Brooks (Shoulders & Arms Rower)
Jim has rowed with Stephanie Moore for 9 years, ever since she enticed him to get on the water by approaching him in the supermarket. A previous ‘jock’ of all sports before MS, his legs were now heavy anchors. After a couple of years of prodding by Stephanie, Jim started rowing down the Connecticut river under the Calvin Coolidge Bridge and back. From that first experience, he has progressed to a 2k row, competing in the BAYADA Regatta and Head of the Charles, and now has earned 20 medals in rowing. He will be competing in the inclusion 2X again this year at the HOCR with Kevin Lonergan.
“Stephanie has given all of us the opportunity to feel whole again, if not in body, but certainly in spirit!! We are all in her debt!! I tried the Resolute seat and sculled at CRI last fall. It was the first time that I felt in total control on the water. I became one with the boat, my lack of abs forgotten, every stroke of the oar flowed through me, moving the boat seamlessly on the water. I look forward to that feeling every day now!!”
Innovation abounds at events like BAYADA, and Kathleen’s remarkable story of creative athleticism is no exception. Kathleen and Stephanie are pictured here rowing in an Alden ocean shell with a Front Rower, handmade in Warren, Rhode Island by Ron Rantilla Rowing Systems. This special rig allows Kathy to her to use her right leg to control her left oar since she can't use her left side, the result of a stroke two years ago.
Bo Tanner (Trunk/Arms Rower)
Bo Tanner, a self-proclaimed “water baby,” is a former swim coach and water polo competitor with a genuine zest for life. Since nearly any water sport is fair game for Bo, it didn’t take much for a friend to convince her to try rowing. Though Bo did not compete at this year’s BAYADA, she has many times previously, having rowed with Jim Brooks here in 2011-2014 and at HOCR. She had the proud moment this month to watch a former student win a silver medal in Rio. Bo says that the most important thing to her, and what she likes best about the Resolute Racing Shell, is tracking and stability. She says, “Other shells I have used are, at times, too responsive, all over the place and can be turned around with one oar.” She also felt the riggers on the Resolute were more solid than what she is used to. We had to love her comments about the Resolute Adaptive seat: “It’s comfy and has a warm and fuzzy feel.” There you have it.
View all the images from BAYADA Regatta 2016 here.
Want to learn more about the crew at Holyoke Rows?
25 Jones Ferry Rd. Holyoke, MA 0104
Thursday Rowing at Holyoke Rows
Universal Access Program, free to people with disabilities and their families. Runs Thursdays from May – October at Holyoke Rows. Call Stephanie at 413-320-3134 to set up a lesson.