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2016-17 Rowing season

David McGrath, Head of Rowing

Thank you for coming tonight to celebrate the 2016-17 rowing season and acknowledge the effort of the girls throughout this long and challenging season. I would like to begin by thanking Ms Clarke, Walford and the members of staff here tonight for being so supportive of this program and allowing us to provide this opportunity to the girls. It is also fantastic to have the Walford First VIII from 1997 here tonight and I look to hearing some stories of their time with Walford Rowing.

This season certainly presented its challenges with the weather wreaking havoc on our pre-season camp and was called off only hours before we were due to  depart. Our attempts to make up for this loss of training was also foiled by the weather and our participation in the Head of the Port regatta was also cancelled. In total, our coaches had derigged and loaded the trailer three times without it ever leaving West Lakes.

Then came our December camp in Renmark– Cancelled! However, having fore warning of the conditions of the Murray we were able to make alternate arrangements. Out of this came a really enjoyable and productive weekend for all.  Rowing the entire squad, from Year 7 to Year 11, in mixed quads, exposed the girls to new experiences; the ability for the junior girls to row with and learn from the senior girls, and for the senior girls to be able to show leadership. It certainly helped break down some of the barriers between the year levels and is something we will now try to incorporate in future seasons.

2017 arrives and some normality and consistency in our training prevails.

The highlight of the season without a shadow of a doubt has to be the Walford regatta. With a set up that rivals any regatta I have seen in Australia, the number of people supporting the day and the spirit of the girls, made this a truly amazing experience.  This support had a clear impact on our girls as they produced their best performances to date. To top it off with a row past of all the Walford crews together was very special. It may be something we are unable to repeat as hopefully we will be able to continue to grow the program and simply not be able to boat all the girls at once.

The Walford regatta was also the last of the three Super Series regattas this season. Whilst the Head of the River might be the biggest regatta, one race does not define the season for any crew or squad. The School Girl premiership is calculated from the results of these regattas and takes into account every crew from the first eight through to the Year 8s and every crew earning the same number of points.  It is for this reason that I love this award as it promotes the fact that every crew and girl is just as important as each other and deserves the same opportunities to perform to their potential.

None of this would be possible without the tireless work of our coaching team. Thank you for putting up with my sometimes over the top demands and crankiness. Without you, and the hard work you have put in, this season would not have turned out the way it has. It is from your guidance, support and encouragement that they girls learn and grow. I am truly thankful for your support this season. 

I couldn’t be prouder of how well this group of girls have tackled the challenge that is rowing. Of particular note is how well the girls banded together as squads and helped each other out. This was often illustrated by how easy it was to get someone to fill in a boat, and to do extra races, just so their fellow rowers were still able to compete. This is a quality that I cannot encourage enough in the girls! There may have been the odd groan form their parents, whom all of a sudden, and most likely without any consultation, had to remain at the regatta for another hour or two.

Which brings me to the parents. Girls, I hope you have all expressed your gratitude and love to your parents. The sacrifices they have made to support your involvement in rowing is significant. Be it simply driving you to and from regattas, getting down early to set up the tents, cutting up fruit, making pancakes, cheering you on and pretending they knew which crew was yours. Your parents do all of this for you! Thank you.

To the parents’ committee. A massive thank you to everyone and anyone who helped out at the Walford regatta this year. It was certainly a huge amount of work but it certainly paid off! I know it has raised the bar for other schools and their parent groups! There are other functions throughout the season including the season launch, wine sales, pasta nights, the head of the river and tonight’s dinner, all organized by the parents. Thank you to everyone that has contributed to these events as these play a huge role in the success of Walford Rowing.

It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge Tim. The work he did and contribution he made to Walford rowing was significant. It has been fantastic to see the girls tribute Tim throughout the season by wearing gingham ribbons.  You will note that I am wearing the same suit as last year… and it isn’t a hand me down from my Dad, Tim!

I am looking forward to reviewing the season and in doing so develop the program further to ensure we are providing the girls with the best experience possible. I am a very strong believer that rowing has so much more to offer than just physical exercise and winning races. The process orientated mentality and teamwork are the aspects that I love about rowing and want to the girls to experience, learn and grow from through their involvement in this sport.

Well done girls on a fantastic season and I look forward to the continual success and growth of Walford rowing. 

Walford Rowing 2017 from Walford School on Vimeo.

31 March 2017  |  0 Comments  |  Tags:


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