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Why I Row: Eileen Ryan

A long time ago in another galaxy, I imagined being a rower. The beauty and gracefulness of the sport had always appealed to me. During my career as a flight attendant, I worked with a young woman who was a member of the MW's team and she urged me to consider trying the sport.

However, my husband told me that I was "crazy" to even consider this idea since I was away four days at a time and logged in 95 hours of flying every month. So, I reconsidered and chose not to pursue the idea.

Fast forward about 15 years. I found myself retired and a widow with time on my hands. An article in The Pittsburgh Post Gazette grabbed my attention. It was about two women who decided to learn how to row and what an incredible adventure and life-changing event it became. The article renewed my interest in the sport, so I saved it for another day.

A few months later I re-read that article and realized that there was no one in my life to tell me that I was crazy to want to attempt this! I figured that I was a " late bloomer " to sports -- I learned to ski at age 36 so why not learn to row at age 57?

The rest is history. I signed up for a learn-to-row session in 2006 and was hooked from the moment we spun the boat for the view of downtown from the water! I volunteered on the docks for HOTO that year and told the folks I met that I intended to row in the event the next year. I joined EMM in 2007 and began my rowing career.

Different personalities working together with a common goal inspires me. It doesn't matter which seat I am in, the pure power, grace, and “working as one " transcends me.

I have also gone over to the "dark side" of rowing: coxing! While recovering from an injury my coach urged me to try coxing. It was the perfect transition and enabled me to remain with my team.

Some days it's hard to choose what I love better! Both skills are extremely satisfying. For me, coxing well, helping my teammates move the boat is an incredible feeling.

I know I have experienced the best part of the sport as a rower and coxswain.

I had the honor and privilege of coxing a WM8+ at HOCR in 2011. To this day that experience still takes my breath away! That feeling, when I spun the boat so they could see all the other competitors waiting to race, and we were a part of it, was incredible! We felt like Olympians for a moment!

Messing around in boats: there is nothing better. Rowing makes me feel alive!

-Eileen Ryan, A-Team

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