Last summer, I had the privilege of attending the Black Student-Athlete Summit in Los Angeles, CA. At the conference, there were over 500 varsity student-athletes across all NCAA divisions. I had the honor of meeting the most talented, hard-working, smart, and kind people with whom I have ever interacted. As I met track runner after track runner, I began to wonder where the rowers were. Joshua Rafferty interviews Black athletes and coaches on their rowing journey, poses the question "How can we get more Black kids in college boats?" and discusses ways that we can diversify our sport at the higher levels.
In September 2023, New Orleans Rowing Club and Xavier University of Louisiana partnered to launch the Xavier Rowing Club program, becoming only the second of its kind at a Historically Black College or University. The initiative is currently led by NORC members Elizabeth Manley and Chloé Jobin. Over the past months, more than a dozen enthusiastic Xavier students with no previous rowing experience have learned the fundamentals of the sport on the waters of Bayou St. John and at the NORC indoor rowing facility. The team is eager to continue to train this season with a group of capable and eager novice rowers, and they hope to race in fours or eights in the spring.
My name is Tammara Quevedo and I am a senior studying Kinesiology and Disability Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I am a current varsity member for the Illinois Rowing Team. I started rowing my freshman year of college and I have fallen in love with the sport ever since. In celebration of Latinx and Hispanic Heritage month, I am honored to have JL Racing invite me to the conversation about what it is like to be a Latina in the rowing community and celebrate my culture.
On February 2nd, we launched our new Men's Unity Unisuit and Women's Unity Unisuit in honor of Black History Month. We will be donating a portion of sales of the Men's and Women's Unity unisuits purchased in February 2023 to Baltimore Community Rowing, and their Reach High Baltimore Program. Read about how BCR is working to increase diversity, accessibility, and inclusion in Baltimore, one stroke at a time.
As Black History Month approaches, esteemed black leaders, activists, athletes, artists, and so many more are highlighted. It serves as an opportunity to take a step back and look at the history and future of our beloved sport through the lens of black people.
Team JL Ambassador, Rusna Sangha is working to increase Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the sport of rowing, one stroke at a time. After joining her local rowing team, she realized that although there were similarities between her and the other rowers, there was one thing that made her different: She was one of only three BIPOC athletes on the team. By the end of her novice year, she was the only BIPOC athlete left on the team. Read about Rusna's story, and her goals for not only herself as a rower, but for increasing DEI in rowing as a community.