From DUC Staff Reports
Rowing is a sport that teaches work ethic, teamwork, and resilience while fostering its participants’ leadership, tenacity and ambition. When paired with strong academic support, rowing offers considerable college opportunities for students. Yet, until now, there were significant accessibility barriers for Dallas area students, especially in under-resourced communities.
RowDallas, an outreach program of Dallas United Crew, a non-profit operating at White Rock Lake, launched in 2019 to drive more inclusion and diversity in rowing. On Saturday morning, RowDallas announced it had received two significant grants totaling $100,000. “The grants will help our program break down the accessibility barriers — financial, transportation and swimming lessons,” explained DUC’s Executive Director Austin Brooks.
Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sports Matter Foundation awarded RowDallas/DUC $75,000 as part of its 75 for 75 anniversary grant program, with RowDallas being the first rowing program to receive a grant from the foundation. The second grant of $25,000 came from A Most Beautiful Thing Inclusion Fund, cofounded by Arshay Cooper, author and the captain of the first all black, high school rowing team. RowDallas is the first competitive rowing team to receive a grant from Cooper’s foundation. Cooper stated the grants will be used in part to purchase Concept2 ergometers (rowing machines) for three area schools: Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School near Fair Park, Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy in southeast Oak Cliff and St. Philips School and Community Center in east Oak Cliff.
The program will also include rowing training at the schools, academic support and access to swimming lessons, all with the goal of the students joining the team in the spring.
During the events earlier in the week at the schools, Cooper shared with the students his stories of growing up in challenging circumstances in the gang-ridden West Side of Chicago and how rowing changed his life. Cooper commented: “These school events were electrifying, and the kids were fired up. They were raising their hands and had a lot of questions about rowing. Through funding, we are excited to provide grants giving access to rowing to more black and brown kids.”
During Saturday’s event, the students received a boathouse tour, learned how to properly row on the rowing machines, and took a few strokes in the boat on the water. Jael, an eighth grade student from Irma Lerma Rangel, shared her experiences from the event: “I liked (that) the bond between the coaches and the students is really strong. I can tell that they’re competitive. And I liked the amount of sportsmanship that they have. Even if we just met today, we were still encouraging each other.”
Tiffany Jackson, the executive director of Friends of Barack Obama Male Leadership academy, commented: “We’re so excited that we are partnering with Arshay Cooper and Dallas United Crew to offer rowing here at the school. This is a great opportunity for young men, and we’re so happy about all of the doors that are open for our brothers.”