MS Blazer Buzz 12 March

This week's highlight: Rowing comes to Middle School Fitness Class

One of the things that makes Woodlawn so special is its desire to expose our students to so many unique opportunities. In addition to traditional subjects like math, English , Spanish, history and science, students immerse themselves in understanding theater, nature, gardening, singing, and service learning to name a few. Likewise, in middle school fitness, we go beyond learning what most people consider “normal” sports. While we do play soccer, basketball and volleyball, we also study and learn how to play less known sports like bocce, rowing and Gaelic football.

Selfishly, I always look forward to our winter rowing unit. A former women’s collegiate rowing coach, I love exposing Woodlawn students to a sport that changed my life. Rowing is physically demanding and takes enormous commitment and focus. It takes teamwork, cooperation, dedication; and is both mentally and physically exhausting. The sense of accomplishment and pride one feels after getting through a hard rowing workout is strong.

In middle school fitness, we start by watching some of the fastest crews in the world competing in Olympic events, learning some of the weird terminology used in rowing and about the long history of the sport. We also see interviews with the top international rowers and coaches and learn about their training and see what motivates them to do such a physically demanding sport. But, the real fun comes when I teach them how to row on the Concept 2 rowing machines; that is when the racing begins! Both the boys and girls love racing against the clock to see how many meters they can pull against their classmates. They also love doing team workouts which involve groups of 4 or 5 working together to complete a distance faster than any other group.

Much of the excitement for rowing this year has come from watching Woodlawn junior, Forrest Daugherty of Davidson, training on his own rowing machine several afternoons a week. Forrest was introduced to rowing last year in the upper school elective called Fitness, Strength and Health and then took "learn to row" classes last spring and summer through the North Carolina Community Sailing and Rowing Association at Blythe Landing. When he came back to school in the fall, he told me he wanted to row in college. In order to be noticed by the top school, is was imperative that he begin training as soon as his cross country season was over and work through his basketball season in order to lower his 2000 meter time on the rowing machine. His hard work paid off; Forrest competed in the World Indoor Rowing Championships in Boston, MA on Sunday, Feb 19. Out of 220 Lightweight Junior Boys (14-18 year olds under 165), 16-year-old Forrest Daugherty placed 12th behind three German national team rowers, one Brazilian, two Canadians and five top US rowers with a time of 6:37.0 his new PR. A straight A student, Forrest is now being sought after by several universities with top rowing programs: Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Dartmouth. See link:


If you want to see Forrest’s 12th place race in Boston click here: