Remembering Gretchen Steiger

Dear OAR family,

Olympia Area Rowing recently lost a beloved friend, fellow member and coach.

Gretchen Steiger passed away on April 12th after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer more than four years ago.  Gretchen’s smile, enthusiasm and joy will be missed greatly by everyone who knew her.

Gretchen’s love of rowing began when she was a high school student at Kent School in Connecticut.  While at Kent, she rowed all four years and she raced twice at the Head of the Charles regatta.  Gretchen also rowed for three years at University of North Carolina and was the captain and stroke of the Varsity 8+.  She later became a student coach of the novice rowing team at UNC.

Gretchen joined Olympia Area Rowing in 1983 when the club operated out of what is now the Rhythm & Rye. In 2008, she won first place in both the Women’s C quad and the Women’s D quad at the Northwest Masters Regional Championship along with teammates Alex Smith, Emily Garlich, Kris Norelius and Kiirsten Flynn.  Gretchen decided to begin coaching about five years ago and working with the junior team brought her tremendous joy. Her daughter, Zoe, also took up rowing in high school and currently rows for Gonzaga University.

Last month, Kiirsten Flynn and Gretchen Van Dusen asked the board of directors to name the Hudson 8+ in honor of Gretchen Steiger.  After a soft fundraising push for boat naming rights, the 8+ was named SteigerStrong and christened by Gretchen’s husband, John, and son, Alexei, on April 9th. Gretchen was aware of the boat name before she passed and it meant a lot to her to be honored in this way.

We have heard from quite a few people that they would like the opportunity to honor Gretchen’s memory and donate to the SteigerStrong boat naming fund.  If you have already made a donation, thank you. If you would like to make a donation, you may send it to:

Olympia Area Rowing
PO Box 7148
Olympia, WA  98507

Rebecca Hellman, President
Olympia Area Rowing Association

Row4Cancer Final Update

Thank you to all who participated in, and contributed to, OAR’s Row4Cancer effort this past January! We received the following update from Row4Cancer organizer, Grant Robinson:

All Row4Cancer Participants:

As promised, I’m sending a final email with the winners of the Participation Award drawing and the final fundraising total. We raised $52,800 for cancer research. That is a lot of money! Thank you for all the great efforts by everyone involved.

The participation award winners are:

Grand Prize of 8 Concept2 Skinny Oars: Cambridge Boat Club, Cambridge, Mass.
First Prize of Concept2 Model D erg: Milton/Neponset Boat Club, Milton, Mass
First Prize of Concept2 Model D erg: Olympia Area Rowing, Olympia, Washington
Second Prize of KN Speed Coach GPS Model 2: Nobles & Greenough School, Dedham Mass.

Congratulations to the winning Row4Cancer teams on the prizes, but congratulations to all of you for rowing around the world to support cancer research. Thank you.

OAR October auction results!

Thanks to Heidi and Monica

We in the OAR community want to extend a special thank you to Heidi Cope and Monica Zepeda for their leadership and hard work that made the recent OAR auction so successful. They spent countless hours going above and beyond the call to make this the wonderful event that it was, and raised about fifty-two thousand dollars for much needed equipment! Thanks also to all who contributed many marvelous and exciting auction items, and to the many cheerful volunteers. It was a great evening, and a very, very successful fundraiser!

Sigrid Hardy Boat Naming

Our newly named Maas-24 single honors the life of Sigrid Hardy and her passion for the water. Rowed on the date of christening  — 7/8/2018 — by her daughter Julia, who carries on the Hardy rowing tradition. 

2018 Nationals results!

2018 Nationals – how did they do?

Olympia Area Rowing was proud to be represented by three crews at the 2018 US Rowing Youth National Championships, held on June 8-10 on Lake Natoma in Gold River, California.

This three-day event serves as the premier youth rowing championship in the United States, with approximately 1,500 athletes, representing 150 teams from across the country, competing in 18 boat classes.

Against the top crews in the nation, our OAR athletes put in some excellent performances. The women’s quad (Emily, Madison, Clare, and Claire) and men’s quad (Keenan, Winston, Stephen and Sean) both made Sunday finals, both finishing 12th in the nation in their respective events. For comparison, last year, our quads finished 18th and 21st.

Amiel in the men’s single finished 20th in the country, which was hugely encouraging as he is only in his second season of rowing. Even more impressive than the results was the way that the young athletes embraced the challenge, managed their nerves on the big stage, and supported each other as teammates. The support from our traveling parents was enormous too!

Richard Hull
Head Coach

Village time!

Help us send our Olympia Area Rowing youth to Nationals!

The good news
We have nine youth rowers and three boats going to Nationals!

The not-so-good news
It costs a lot of money to transport nine youth rowers, three boats and their coaches all the way from Olympia, Washington to Lake Natoma in California.

HOW CAN I HELP, you ask? It really does take a village to do things sometimes. If we all chip in a little, it makes the burden much easier to bear. So this is how you can help. Give a little, give a lot, but just give so our juniors can go to Lake Natoma and row hard and not worry about the cost of it all when they do.

HOW CAN I GIVE? Ah, good question. Drop off a check in the OAR Treasurer’s little black box in the boathouse the next time you row. Or go to their Rally Me Page. The kids will greatly appreciate that you helped them, and they will enjoy their rowing experience that much more.

Please help our kids defray these expenses so they can do their best at Nationals.

Thank you for your generosity – every little bit helps!

Don’t wait – give today!

Nationals is next!

OAR athletes headed to 2018 US Rowing Youth Nationals

Nine OAR athletes in three crews have been invited to race against the best in the nation at the 2018 US Rowing Youth Nationals June 8 – 10th at Lake Natoma in California.

The women’s quad of Emily, Madison, Clare, and Claire qualified automatically by finishing second at the NW Regional Championships. They have picked up speed all season, getting faster every race. They uncorked an amazing row in the Regionals finals last weekend – actually leading the eventual winners, Seattle Rowing Center (with several US Junior National Team athletes on board), for the first quarter of the race. Blending two sophomores with two juniors, it will be exciting to see the crew grow as they embrace the challenge of racing at the next level.

The men’s quad of Keenan, Stephen, Winston and Sean came less than a 10th of a second from automatic qualification, but they have received an invitation to race. Stephen and Keenan are seniors who have rowed with the program for five years and return to Nationals for their third and second time, respectively. Winston and Sean are in their second year of rowing, with Sean having impressively battled through knee surgery at the end of last year.

They are joined by Amiel in the men’s single, who in one of the most exciting finals last weekend, finished less than a second outside of automatic qualification. Impressively, he is in only his second season of rowing (playing tennis in the Fall) and has also received an invitation to race at Lake Natoma in two weeks’ time.

We celebrate the accomplishments of these crews as a team success; crews go fastest when everyone on the team is rowing well, competing well, and supporting each other. So, while we celebrate with the individual athletes who are representing OAR at Nationals, we also recognize and celebrate their teammates as an essential part of the team’s success.

Richard Hull
Head Coach

2018 Youth Regionals!

Amazing Regionals celebrates an excellent Spring season for the OAR Youth team

We say row well, go fast, and have fun… there was certainly a lot of that at the US Rowing NW Youth Regionals last weekend!

Across the board, there were some great performances with athletes getting off the water beaming – proud of themselves and doubly proud of their teammates. The novices put on a show in sculling and sweep events (making the finals in eights for the first time ever; doubles medaled left and right, both (2) boys’ and both (2) girls’ quads made finals out of fields of 20 plus boats; the fastest boys quad won and the fastest girls quad came second in very close race.

The varsity girls did well across the board, especially for such a young group. The quad came in second to SRC’s USJNT packed quad in an exciting race that was much closer than many predicted. There was some great racing in other girls crews, too. Of note, our lightweight and open weight single scullers embraced the challenge and were inspirational with their positivity! The varsity boys were off the pace from last year’s amazing performance, but delivered some really good racing against very strong competition. It was great to note the quality of rowing across the whole team, with many crews getting off the water feeling that they had the best row of their season.

Overall a very successful weekend with a great vibe. The “cuisine team” of parents led by Dana set new standards of food excellence and community feel. Teamwork off the water (as well as on) was fantastic. Our cheering section was, as ever, the loudest. These are perhaps not so obvious as technical skills and fitness, but all aspects of rowing well, going fast and having fun… together!

Richard Hull
Head Coach