JHerounPortrait Specializes in Headshots and Portrait Photography, Boston & New York
On the Waterfront
Family, it’s everything
Nearly year-round, regardless of weather, crew teams can be observed gliding elegantly upon the surface of the meandering Charles, sluicing east and west through Cambridge and Boston. Rowing has given shape and meaning to people of all ages and backgrounds, who prize the unity and discipline required to conquer the challenges of this graceful, ancient sport.
As the first in a series of portraits celebrating unsung women athletes, rowing has been the perfect lead-off. For one, it is quintessentially New England, a quality that expresses regional character, something worthy of recognition. Second, it is the essence of the collective over the individual, which, again, is an important strain in our culture that at times seems imperiled. Team sport imbues values that run deep and wide to forge integrity and fortitude in those who put themselves on the line.
Big thanks to Producer Christine Car and team member Laura Gassner Otting for facilitating this wonderful series of portraits. And to Matt Lehrer and Kane Larin of Community Rowing for their cooperation and enthusiasm for the project. Most importantly, thanks to the champion sportswomen of the Competitive Women’s Team. Best of luck at the 2017 Head of the Charles!
The CRI Competitive Women’s Team in action at the Head of the Charles, Boston, October 21, 2017
ANNIE PHILLIPS, 31,Faculty, Entrepreneurial Musicianship, New England Conservatory “I had never played competitive sports before I started rowing three years ago in Oakland, California. Aside from the matchy-matchy spandex, what I love most are the friendships and support system I discovered at the boathouse.”
MARIE KEIL, 25, Higher Ed Administration “I wasn't at all athletic until after college - I never exercised, had terrible hand-eye coordination, and didn't enjoy playing sports. Rowing over the last three years has completely changed that! If you had told me four years ago that I would voluntarily wake up at 4:30am to exercise, I would have laughed you out of the room.”
THERESA WELSH, 54,Director at Fidelity Investments “I’ve been rowing since I was in my 20s, but the joke is that I started as a novice three times. At 39, I suffered a massive stroke, but set my sights past the years of leg braces, crutches, wheelchairs, and falling (much falling), arriving at CRI in the spring of 2011 ready to row again. In 2016, I joined this amazing team, but within the first few weeks of practice, I was diagnosed with cancer. So instead of competing during my first summer, I instead found myself at Dana Farber, and once again in a wheelchair and using crutches. However, my favorite saying is always ‘If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan, but never the goal’. So I picked myself back up, dusted myself off, and said ‘that’s all you’ve got?' I am woman, hear me roar.”
LAURA GASSNER OTTING, 46, Consultant, Author, Speaker “Every woman on this team kicks major ass. And each of us show up every damn day to earn the privilege of calling them teammates. We launch in the pitch black, paddle up to the skyline and then, in turn, experience the brutality and meditation that is rowing, all as the sun rises over the city just waking up. There is no better way to start the day.”
TARA DIAB, 54,Self-employed Contractor/Furniture Designer “I started rowing at 39 as a way to conquer the grief of losing my mother. I’ve met the most amazing women as a member of the Comp team. Everyone brings their own strength and we lift each other to be the best we can be. Rowing is a sport that you can start at any age, become proficient and compete at a national level if you have the will to push yourself.”
MARTHA MANCE, 62, Pediatric and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner “My life would be so much less satisfying without rowing! It starts my day with a smile.”
GENEVIEVE HOLMES, 31, Profession Manager of Strategic Initiatives at The Forsyth Institute “I’m in the best shape of my life when I’m rowing and it is this combined with regularly seeing the calm Charles river, sunrises, bird life and fall foliage that give me strength, discipline, and peace of mind.”
ERIN McKENNA, 42,Deputy Director, Boston Biomedical Innovation Center “What I love most about rowing is feeling a boat come together. The whole really can be greater than the sum of its parts.”
BECCA SCHOFIELD, 28, Project Manager at an Affordable Housing Nonprofit “I started rowing when I was 15 and have loved it since. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to train and compete at such a beautiful & tough sport with such beautiful & tough women. Plus a rowing uni is my favorite outfit.”
SAM FOWLE, 26, Product Specialist at Vistaprint “I started rowing because my mom told me to. Half the reason I joined this team was so I could eat unforgivable amounts of pizza and ice cream, and because I like joy, pain, success, failure, laughs, tears, and blisters, in equal measure. Also, I knit.”
COURTNEY FORRESTER, 39, Programs and Municipal Partnerships Manager, WasteZero “I started rowing in college because I was looking for a way to stay active and meet new people. This sport has become a way of life–helping me build a support system in college, helping me navigate being a young adult in a new city, and supporting me through job and life challenges. The dedication of the women on the team inspire me on a regular basis. Despite not being a natural morning person, waking up each day before the sun to work hard and row together is the best way I can imagine to start my day. And, winning is pretty fun.” This sport has become a way of life–helping me build a support system in college, helping me navigate being a young adult in a new city, and supporting me through job and life challenges. The dedication of the women on the team inspire me on a regular basis. Despite not being a natural morning person, waking up each day before the sun to work hard and row together is the best way I can imagine to start my day. And, winning is pretty fun.”
LISA DOUCETT, 62, Director of Grant Development, Middlesex Community College Age Group and Gender, U.S. Mountain Running Championship 2017 “While I am relatively new to rowing, I try to cross train in my long-time sport of distance, mountain and trail running competitively. I spend most of my training time alone which I think helps me appreciate the wonderful results of teamwork.”
KATIE JONES, 28, Nurse and Rowing Coach “I am a long distance runner who was tired of lonely runs by myself. Rowing has been an incredible way to get me out of bed in the morning and work toward a goal with a group of women sharing the same vision. There is nothing better than rising at 4:30 in the morning to awaken one's body to the beautiful rhythm and intensity of rowing. Breathing harmoniously, all eight of us commit and together we glide along the water while the rest of the world is still waking up.”
MARY WHITE, 56, Environmental Compliance Manager for Massachusetts Water Resources Authority “When you row with people a lot they become part of you.”
EMILY PARFIT, 32, Non-profit Consultant, Public School Districts, Education Resource Strategies “I’ve been rowing since I was 14 and I can't imagine life without the feeling of a boat gliding underneath me, while I reach out for the next stroke.”
MIRIAM WARD 24, Rowing Coach/Retail “Rowing gave me the ability to see myself as strong in every aspect of life. Every time I've felt my weakest, being in a boat surrounded by strong women working towards one connected goal reminds me just how strong women can be. Even when the doctor told me I’d never be able to run well again—if at all—I responded: ‘Okay, but I can row, right?”
LINDSEY ANGIONE, 31, Senior Marketing Manager “I found rowing after my father passed away from cancer. I was lost and disconnected following his death, searching for something to focus on besides my grief. Rowing made me feel like I belonged somewhere again and gave me something new to think about, to master, and to enjoy. The women of the Competitive team inspire and support me, and I admire them in countless ways. My favorite memory has been winning gold in the Club 8+ at the Head of the Hooch on what would have been my Dad’s 66th birthday. I know my Dad would be incredibly proud of what my teammates and I are accomplishing out on the water, and that’s meant everything to me.”