River City Rowing Club offers a different sport to try – Daily Democrat

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While there are plenty of things to get you up and out of the house in West Sacramento, access to the river or water can be difficult to find.

Well, if you love the water, teamwork, and want to try something new while staying active, then signing up for an introduction to River City Rowing Club might be for you.

Founded in 1983, River City Rowing offers Yolo County residents an outlet for a different kind of exercise. They provide well-protected water activity for residents of Sacramento, West Sacramento, Davis, Woodland, Elk Grove and beyond. Club programs provide competitive and recreational rowing opportunities to community members of all ages and sport backgrounds.

Practices are held near the RCRC Boathouse, located at 2901 Industrial Blvd. in the port of West Sacramento.

River City Rowing Club Women’s Masters Team. Courtesy of Anton Chen

“It’s quite a demanding activity,” said River City Rowing Club executive director and coach Arthur Ericsson. “When they’re beginners, we help everyone learn gradually, but the goal is to get out there and eventually race. Rowing has a reputation for being demanding, and that’s true from the end of the first year.

Now in her fifth year after a mini hiatus, Ericsson, who has been with the RCRC for over 10 years, is currently coaching one of the women’s rookie teams.

The RCRC programs offered cover three age levels and include a private lesson and team building program.

The youngest program offered is the middle school level for students in grades five through seven. Non-competitive team sessions allow younger kids to learn the basics and have fun seeing if rowing is right for them.

The next level up is the RCR Junior Crew, which is a competitive program for high school students. After a two-week evaluation, the coaches will see where you can fit in at this level. Then, after a year, skilled rowers go from novice to university.

At the junior level, the novice team has 40 students. The entire junior team has more than 80 children.

“We don’t usually cut anyone,” Ericsson said. “As long as they show effort, they will be welcome in our team. It’s a matter of safety on the rare occasions when we cut someone. It’s not something we were born to do, because it’s a completely different skill set. You are there with seven other people while someone leads. The boats are designed to go fast through the water, so they are “tippy”. It’s fun for some people who want that level of excitement.

The RCRC trains from early September to early May, competing with over 35 other junior rowing programs in the South West region. Additionally, the RCRC competes in regional and national events, including the USRowing Southwest Youth Championship, to qualify for the USRowing Youth National Championship Regatta.

RCRC is offering anyone a trial of up to two weeks for anyone interested because the sport is so different. Ericsson mentions that the Club does not force people to commit from the start if it is not for them.

Other programs offered at RCRC include Adult Rowing, which gives adults ages 18-80 the opportunity to progress from learning the basics to novice, intermediate, and then advanced, a team-building program where companies or groups can sign up for a 1-day class where they learn to row.

“Sometimes groups come in and do team-building experiences,” Ericsson said. “Recently Air Force Base Fairfield came over and learned to row.”

Each program has its own last progression. A full breakdown of programs and class levels can be found at rivercityrowing.org/programs.

“I would say the West Sacramento Harbor water body is really special for the sport,” Ericsson said. “There are miles and miles of rowing down to the bay.”

The RCRC is not affiliated with any school in the area but is open to anyone in the area. The only other rowing option nearby, according to Ericsson, is Natoma Lake, located at Folsom and Nimbus Dams in Sacramento County.

“You can take a boat and go out on a lake, but you miss the whole team aspect that makes rowing the team sport that it is,” Ericsson said. “When you’re in an eight-person boat, there’s no one to win the race.”

From February, those interested can enroll in a summer course. Ericsson says the Club offers scholarships to high school students and their families who may not be able to afford rowing.

“I just think rowing has so much to offer, and it’s great to try something new in life,” Ericsson said. “A lot of kids may be doing a sport they grew up with, but does it give you everything a sport can give? Rowing is so different, so I encourage people to follow a short course and see what it’s like, they can find that it’s really exciting in their life.

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