La Vega ISD holds first rowing practice | Education

Given the blustery weather in Tuesday’s forecast, La Vega Independent School District held its first multi-grade rowing practice for youths from sixth grade to rising seniors indoors at the HP Miles Campus.

“It’s my first time and I enjoyed it,” rising 10th grader Rueben Reed III said. Rueben usually plays football, soccer and competes with the powerlifting team. “This (rowing) can open doors for you.”

The plan for the day had been to put about 60 students in a about a dozen boats on the water of the Brazos River, but Monday afternoon when cloudy skies threatened more rain, said Matt Scheuritzel, executive director at Waco Rowing Center, and school district officials made the decision for an indoor event.

The event included about 60 total students with 10 rowing machines.

Elijah Ramirez, a rising eighth grader, had a practical view.

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“(Rowing) will give kids something to do over the summer and we’ll get stronger,” Elijah said.

Before the main event, sixth graders got their first introduction to the rowing machines.

At the main event, former high school rower Arshay Cooper, of A Most Beautiful Thing Inclusion Fund, gave inspiring talks and Luke Walton grouped the youth around the rowing machines for relay drills. Walton is a former rowing Olympian and a former executive director of the San Diego Crew Classic regatta.

Cooper talked about leadership, team building and opportunities for college and business that can flow from rowing.

Walton had the students form groups of six, with each member from a different grade. The groups rowed several relay races, each for five minutes. In the relays, the groups changed the rower after about 45 seconds. The team rowing the farthest would be the winner, Walton said.

Walton will help to set up the course and train officials for a rowing competition in Waco coming up in November, the rowing center director said.

Rising freshman Sidney Campos agreed with Elijah that going to rowing practice over the summer would help athletes get stronger.

“It will be better than sitting at home bored,” Sidney said.

Another rising freshman, Zoe Kennington did not want to leave the rowing machine. After several five-minute competitions and a cooldown breathing exercise with a yoga instructor, she got back on a rowing machine and trained some more.

“At first I was nervous, but after I tried it, I felt relief,” Zoe said.

She said she felt the exercise more in her legs than she had expected and less in her arms.

After the cooldown breathing exercise, Cooper also led the students in a team building exercise to meet someone they never knew before, introduce themselves and create a special handshake. Many rising seniors paired up with younger students from the intermediate school and the junior high.

Following the handshakes several of the rising seniors talked about what they hoped to get out of rowing.

Rising senior Jonathan Scott runs track.

“I like it,” Jonathan said. “It’s fun and it’s a (good) workout.”

Jaydon Lang plays football, runs track and competes on the powerlifting team.

“I’m pretty sure it will help us get ready for any sport,” Jaydon said.

Soon enough, the La Vega rowing students will train more on the rowing machines, take basic water safety classes and then put oars in boats on the water of the Brazos, officials said.

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