Updated: Nov 2, 2021
Dear TRRA Community,
At the end of each water season, I start to reflect on the year that has been - trying to recapture the moments of joy, opportunity, and growth that passed seemingly in the blink of an eye. 2021 was filled with the perseverance of our community in the middle of a pandemic and countless moments of hard work, reflection and success, both on and off the water. A few highlights for me were:
Our Conversation, A Long Talk About the Uncomfortable Truth: In January, over 40 leaders from all levels of our TRRA community participated in a 3-day anti-racism activation workshop. This experience presented participants with a powerful perspective on our society and provided us with the tools and resources needed to be agents of change in our communities.
Our Powerful Performances: 2021 was the first time since 2019 that we had the opportunity to train and compete in team boats. Our rowers and paddlers returned to these boats and these races with a uniform drive that propelled them across the finish line. Three Rivers Youth Rowing sent 6 crews to the Youth National Championships, all of whom returned with a top 25 ranking in the nation, two with medals and one with the title of National Champions.
A few months later our AAA Masters traveled to Oak Ridge, TN to compete in the USRowing Masters National Championships and returned with 11 medals - including 2 golds! Soon after, Hearts of Steel hosted the Pittsburgh Dragon Boat Festival at North Park Lake where our entire paddling community, Hearts of Steel and the Pittsburgh Paddlefish, competed against teams from across the region. And early October, TRRA hosted the 35th annual Head of the Ohio regatta that featured over 470 entries from 50 teams. I could not be more proud of all our crews, athletes, and volunteers who came together to make these events such an overwhelming success!
Our Selfless Community: 2021 would not have been possible without the leadership and support of our staff and community. With the pandemic still hovering over every aspect of our daily lives, we all faced a great deal of uncertainty. Programs and events were scheduled on short notice to ensure the safest possible operations. TRRA, like every other business, faced periods of financial strain and staff shortages that impacted all programs. At every turn, our staff and community stepped up and got the job done. We fed off each other's commitment to our mission and have become a stronger community because of it. Thank you for helping us through another year of unprecedented unpredictability.
Our work, however, is far from done. 2022 is just a few weeks away and we are still putting the pieces, broken by the pandemic, back together so that we can continue to pursue our mission in new ways and in new communities.
Strengthening Our Mission: Over the last 18 months, The TRRA staff and Board used the pandemic pause to reflect and refocus on the organization’s mission, core values, and how our programs embody that mission and those values. We emerged from this deep dive with Row412, a multi-faceted approach to increase awareness, accessibility and engagement in our sports for everyone in Southwestern Pennsylvania, regardless of background or ability.
Row412 will focus on bringing rowing directly to the community, the goal of which is to pave roads from these communities that we serve to our campuses. These roads will be built with trust, transparency, and a holistic sense of purpose for youth and adults. Some of the facets of Row412 include:
First Row 2.0: A 16-week, land-based program for middle school students that will introduce the sport of rowing in their schools and community centers, provide swim lessons, and is built around a 6-unit Social-Emotional Learning framework designed to enhance healthy relationship building, communication skills, problem-solving strategies, and goal-setting skills. TRRA has already partnered with the Carnegie Mellon Rowing program and The Neighborhood Academy for this program with more partnerships in the works.
Adaptive & Para Rowing: Expanding our land-based training opportunities throughout the winter for youth and adults with disabilities throughout the region that will lead directly to team-based on water programming and competitive opportunities in 2022.
Coaching & Leadership Development: TRRA coaches and leaders must be representative of the communities that we serve. TRRA is working to establish a coaching development program for rowing and paddling to train more coaches and leaders to not only meet the influx of athletes but also ensure diverse representation and voices at all levels of our organization that will continue to guide our mission.
These are just a few of the roads and bridges we plan to build. Over the next year, we will be launching several other programs and events aimed at enhancing access to rowing and paddling for a diverse community and ask for your support along the way.
Please consider contributing during the Annual Appeal to help position Three Rivers Rowing Association as a leader in increasing diversity, representation, and inclusion across the sports of rowing and paddling in Western Pennsylvania.
There are a few different ways in which you can contribute to TRRA during the two-month Annual Appeal Campaign:
Contribute directly to the Annual Appeal website
Join the Boathouse Preservation Society
Participate in the Turkey Scramble Regatta, Nov. 13
Contribute to the GiveBIG Pittsburgh Campaign on Giving Tuesday, Nov. 30