Twin Cities non-profit introduces youth to rowing

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Up to four nights per week on Silver Lake in St. Anthony, 13-year-old Laniya Warfield-Johnson and four other young members of the North Star Community Rowing team are perfecting their newfound skills.

“I never thought about any different kind of sports except basketball, football, softball,” said Warfield-Johnson.  “Rowing never came up to my mind.”

Created by a group of volunteer rowers, the non-profit aims to expose middle school students, high school students and people with disabilities to a sport they may not otherwise get an opportunity to try.

“Most people think of it as a rich elite white peoples' sport,” said executive director Annie Trimberger. “Most of the reason is because it’s expensive.”

After a year of fundraising and collecting several donated boats, North Star Community Rowing is now in its second year. Each member of the youth crew successfully passed swim tests through the YMCA, which means they can be out on the water without life jackets and prepare for their first regatta on the Mississippi River.

“I’m kind of nervous, but I feel like I’m going to do good,” said Warfield-Johnson.

“Rowing is the ultimate team sport,” said coach, Terri Linderbaum. “You have to not only have to work together you have to respect everyone in the boat. When they all started out not everyone was their best friend, but kind of like life, you have be able to work with anybody.”

Beyond time on the water, rowers are exposed to the doors this sport could potentially open for them. College campus tours are coordinated along with races. The overall goal is to coach these kids through not only athletics, but also academics and personal development.

“Discipline, team work, self-confidence and then the physical benefits of course,” said Trimberger.

Without realizing it, there are life lessons with every stroke.

“I like that’s it different and keeps me active all day,” said Warfield-Johnson “It takes a lot of working together.”

For more information on how to get involved with North Star Community Rowing, click here