Skip to content

Local students 'hooked' after club's 'try out rowing' event

'I loved being on the lake and rowing with a crew. It was a lot of fun and a really great form of fitness training,' said student; Learn-to-Row weekends on horizon

The following was submitted by Larry Fiddick on behalf of the Orillia Rowing Club.

“Once I was in the boat, I was hooked.”

That was Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School student Bianca Binetti’s first impression of rowing as she took part in the Orillia Rowing Club’s annual Try Out Rowing event. She wasn’t alone. Eighteen local youths took part in this year’s event at Tudhope Park this past weekend.

Try Out Rowing is a national event, promoted by Rowing Canada, but hosted by local clubs like the Orillia Rowing Club. The club, now in its 26th year, has expanded its programming over the past year with the help of its new coach, Anne Hodkin, who previously helped build the Argonaut Rowing Club’s competitive program in Toronto.

This past winter, coach Hodkin and Barb Pidgen, club veteran, introduced indoor rowing to hundreds of high school girls around Orillia. Bianca was one of them.

“I liked it at the school. It was fun competing against my friends. But I didn’t think I was going to like rowing at first. The instructors encouraged me to go to the Try Out program and get the full feel for it.”

But despite the fitness benefits of indoor rowing, actually getting out on the water in a real boat is another experience altogether.

“I loved being on the lake and rowing with a crew. It was a lot of fun and a really great form of fitness training. My arms and legs were burning after but I felt great,” Bianca added.

Bianca has since joined the club’s youth rowing program, which started this week at Tudhope Park, but registration remains open for 14- to 18-year-olds still interested in joining.

Coach Hodkin also ran the club’s winter training program at the Orillia Recreation Centre that attracted a dedicated group of participants, including several members of the club’s competitive program.

But rowing isn’t just a sport for young athletes. The club supports both recreational and competitive rowing, with members ranging in age from their teens to their seventies.

The club is always looking for new members. Interested adults can check out the sport at a second, free Try Out Rowing event May 27 and 28. Drop in any time between 9 and 11 a.m. at the club’s boathouse in Tudhope Park.

For those who don’t need further convincing, the club is hosting two Learn-to-Row weekends, June 10 and 11 and June 24 and 25. Youths can learn to row at the aforementioned youth rowing program or 11- to 15-year-olds can take part in one of the city’s three all-day summer rowing camps (July 4 to 7, 10 to 14, and 17 to 21; register via the city’s SUN Registration website).

Further information about the club and its programs can be found at the club’s website,