Dear TRRA Community,
Three Rivers Rowing Association has a rich history of being an inclusive community organization for all. In 2020, our youngest athlete was 12 years old with our oldest approaching 90 - reinforcing that rowing and paddling truly are life long sports. The sport that we have chosen to participate in has begun for each of us at different points in our lives and for different reasons and continues to have a profound impact on our lives.
As part of the 2020 Annual Appeal, we are excited to continue the Why I Row/Paddle Series to amplify the voices of our TRRA community. Each week, we will share a story from one of our programs as we celebrate the impact of our entire TRRA community.
On this Veterans Day we show our gratitude, respect, and appreciation for all of the men and women who so bravely served our country. Please take a moment to read Volume II of the Why I Row/Paddle Series, which tells the story of TRRA Member Major Andrew Bartle.
Why I Row - Major Andrew Bartle
I am a rower and an officer in the United States Marine Corps. The two are very similar in a lot of ways. I began rowing on the Schuylkill as a freshman in high school back in 1991. I immediately fell in love with the sport. I rowed for eight years in high school and college winning several New England and National Championships. The sport and my teammates very much defined me and I have best friends from collegiate rowing to this day.
Right out of college I attended Officer Candidates School and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marines in 1999. I found a lot of similarities between the Marines and rowing. Both require teamwork and the ability to persevere through pain and exhaustion. I was not able to row while on active duty from 1999-2010, but the sport never left me. I bought an erg and kept training despite a high operational tempo. I found my training as a rower helped me tremendously through the mental and physical challenges of the Marine Corps. During this time I began running competitively and made several All-Marine marathon and ultramarathon teams. We competed against the other services and the Royal Marines each year.
I left the Marines in 2010 and moved to Pittsburgh to get married and go to graduate school. I rowed with the Master's team in 2013 and loved being back on the water and having teammates again. Unfortunately, I had to stop rowing for a few years as work and new children took too much time. This past year I went through some deep personal challenges and was searching for a way to handle them and take back control of my life. That's what led me back to TRRA. Vespoli made me a custom single and I was able to get out on the water again.
The feeling of rowing and the rhythmic nature of the stroke are hard to describe to someone who has never felt that elusive "swing" before. Rowing at TRRA was not only good for my body but allowed me to get through my personal struggles. I now work for the Department of Veteran's Affairs, which gives me the satisfaction of being able to help disabled veterans like myself. I could not have been able to start my life over and have such a fulfilling job without the inner peace that rowing gave me.
I look forward to being able to get out on the water in team boats with the Master's Program. It was a privilege to be a Marine and it is also a privilege to row. I'm lucky that there is a club like TRRA that welcomed me in, I now look forward to the future secure in knowing TRRA will be part of my life for years to come.