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First Row - Three Rivers Rowing

Watch & Listen to what the girls on the team take away from being involved in First Row on our 2012 - 2013 Season Video

If interested in joining the team as a rower or a volunteer
let us know you're interested here

First Row Program Brochure here.

First Row Fall 2013 Application here.

Sign up for First Row Marathon Fundraiser here.

Head Coach: Stephanie Ricker
Assistant Coaches: Becca Hester & Nate Dolphin
Volunteer Coaches: Sarah Volpe & Susan Godfrey


  - October 4th - Head of the Ohio Race
  - October 7th - First Day of practice for new athletes

The mission of First Row is to engage Pittsburgh’s urban high school girls in a community rowing program that cultivates self-discipline, confidence, team-building and improved health.

The First Row season runs Monday through Thursday starting the second week in September and ending the last week of May with an approximate total of 140 practices.

Girls on the team undergo physical training at each practice. Exercise includes technical workouts using indoor rowing tanks, utilizing indoor rowing machines (ergometers), weight training, abdominal and kinesthetic circuits, and using TRRA racing shells for water practices.

We do recruiting in September for our fall season, and in January for our winter/spring season. Before going on the water, athletes undergo swim lessons given by a certified instructor at the Sarah Heinz House. Each girl goes through a series of instructions to increase their comfort level in and around the water, and to help them pass the TRRA required swim test. We do lessons in October and in February for new athletes joining the team. Every girl must maintain her membership by attending practices regularly and demonstrating her dedication to the team at practices and races.

Returning athletes compete in Head of the Ohio regatta in October. All athletes participate in two indoor races over the winter, TRRA Indoor Sprints and North Allegheny Indoor Race in January and March respectively. In the spring, all athletes have the opportunity to race on the water in the Scholastic Sprints Regatta in May, other local scrimmages and travel to an away race.

Graduates from First Row are encouraged to continue their involvement with the team through assisting with practices if they live or attend colleges locally.

First Row is a rowing program founded in the 2009 for girls attending Pittsburgh Public/Charter Schools. We are able to offer the program at no cost thanks to our funders which include: The Dorrance Family, Sustainable Pittsburgh, Highmark BCBS, The Pittsburgh Foundation – Wish Book, The Buhl Foundation, PNC Charitable Trusts, Dollar Bank and other private donors like YOU!


May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
June 2013

- Pittsburgh Tribune Review - TribLIVE May 15, 2013
   -"High school rowers enjoy 'home' meet on the Allegheny"

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - October 3, 2012
Photos of the Day #7 & 8

Pittsburgh Tribune Review - TribLIVE – Oct. 2, 2011
"Novice Team Makes Rowing Inroads"

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - July 14, 2011
"Rowing's Popularity Fueled by Cleaner Rivers, More Opportunities for Girls"

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Mar. 6, 2011
"Rowing Teaches Life Skills to Teens"

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Dec. 13, 2010
"Beyond Rowing: Inner-City Girls Benefit Physically, Mentally from the Sport"

'Walls Are Bad' blog- Wednesday, October 6, 2012
"How I Got Hooked on Rowing"

Rowing historically is not found as a have Public School program, making it difficult for city youth to be involved with the sport. Even with club programs (school or community-based), rowing is a very expensive sport. One boat can cost as much as $30,000 and it’s not uncommon for high school teams to cost over $1,000 per year per athlete. This price does not include transportation and race expenses or the cost for weather appropriate workout/race clothing. With these high expenses it is rare to find urban kids active in the sport. First Row is unique because it offers the high quality coaching and equipment at no cost to the athletes. Transportation, race fees and some workout clothes are all paid for thanks to our generous funders!

First Row aims to diversify the sport of rowing in Pittsburgh by including female students from Pittsburgh’s economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. The lack of athletic programs for women in the urban population places these girls at risk for future health problems experienced by minority populations. First Row meets four times a week during the school year. During this time we work toward reducing participant’s risk for lifestyle-related diseases by helping them increase and maintain their physical activity level. Rowing also teaches them how to approach and handle complex tasks and projects which, in turn, helps to increase their self-confidence as they experience improvement in the sport and in their overall fitness. This combined focus on an active lifestyle along with learning life skills in a team setting, position the girls for future success in the Pittsburgh community.

The concept of First Row comes from the success of other independent rowing programs that target at-risk youth and have proven to have a positive impact on participants‘ academic and post-secondary performance. Row New York launched in 2002 ( and GROW Boston launched in 1998 ( are two of these programs.
First Row activities help the youth involved:

a) Recognize the contributions each individual adds to the success of the entire team and celebrate the progress they make in learning a new challenging sport.

b) Learn good sportsmanship by respecting opponents/competitors and working with team members.

c) Learn the techniques and terminology used in rowing and increase their physical activity with a non-impact sport that develops all the major muscle groups.

First Row aims to recruit and sustain a rowing team consisting of 30+ girls from Pittsburgh’s urban public high schools. We specifically focus on diversity and inclusion of economically disadvantaged neighborhoods with limited access to athletic programs. The schools we recruit from are chosen based on the demographics of the neighborhoods served, the connections to the schools and the feasibility of providing transportation. All schools serve economically disadvantaged minorities in Pittsburgh’s urban neighborhoods and are located within five miles of TRRA’s Training Facilities. Currently, we offer transportation to girls attending Perry HS, City High, Northside Urban Pathways, CAPA 6-12 and University Prep/Milliones. We are constantly working to provide transportation to more schools. Although the focus is to recruit at-risk girls, all girls interested in attending the program are accepted. Enrollment is open regardless of academic standing.

Please Donate to First Row