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Wanted: Rowing recruits

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Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneJake Read, right, and other Rogue Rowing Juniors Team members row on machines at the downtown plaza in Ashland on Saturday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneMarin Chamberland, front, and other Rogue Rowing Juniors Team members row on machines at the downtown Plaza in Ashland Saturday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneAmelie Requejo, left, and Mira Jacobs-Grigseby row on machines at the downtown Plaza in Ashland Saturday.
Rogue Rowing takes it to the streets on the Ashland Plaza to raise funds, attract new members

Members of the Rogue Rowing Juniors Team demonstrated their skills and strength on land Saturday to raise funds for their activities.

They brought more than a dozen rowing machines — also known as ergometers — to the Ashland Plaza. People could pledge to donate based on how much rowing various team members achieved in an hour.

The event, which was set up in the main Plaza traffic island, was also described as an “Erg-a-Thon.” People driving around it were able to see the unusual display, and some parked their vehicles and walked back to get a better look.

“The machines serve as a training instrument,” said Sydney Bichsel, the team’s head coach.

In the winter, it’s too cold to put a small boat into Emigrant Lake, team member pointed out.

A couple of ergometers were set up separately for passersby to try out. These were not too far from the tables set up where people were also able to purchase baked goods and team logo items during the fundraiser.

The team is also recruiting new members for spring and are encouraging people to give the sport a try.

It’s a sport with many opportunities and plenty of scholarships. For example, Amelie Requejo, 14, is supposed to be going to England this summer for two weeks in a rowing camp with elite coaches, one of her family members said proudly.

“We’re recruiting — any age, any fitness level — to try out,” Bichsel said. “We are hoping to grow our squad this year.”

Rogue Rowing was established in 1998. It’s now a 501 (C) (3) with a variety of programs, including para and veterans rowing, she explained.

After moving to solo boats because of COVID-19, the team is using more group-size boats again, Bichsel said.

One of the Erg-a-Thon participants was Maren Chamberland, 17, of Medford.

“Some people will definitely get up to 10,000 meters,” she said.

That would be the equivalent of rowing more than six miles.

Chamberland has been involved with the team for three years.

“It takes a lot of athleticism,” she explained. “I’ve always loved the water.”

She used to swim before starting to row.

“It’s the sport I really want to invest in,” Chamberland said. ”I’m hoping to go to college for rowing.”

She’s excited to get back into group boating. The larger boats hold up to eight rowers.

Zaire Collier, 14, of Ashland, has been rowing for about two years.

“I like how rhythmic it is, ” Collier said. “You can really get into the move.”

Her mother was a rower in college so she knew about the sport. But when Rogue Rowers visited her middle school a couple of years ago, she was able to try out one of their ergometers and became intrigued.

She has been involved in soccer, gymnastics and some aerial sports.

But, “rowing has my heart,” Collier said. “I don’t think I could leave the team for anything.”

Collier had to limit her participation Saturday to helping with the event. This is because she recently injured a knee.

After the group completed the hour of rowing, Jake Read, 17, of Ashland and in the organization for five years, was breathing only a bit hard. He looked satisfied with his effort.

“I’m out here for the team,” Read said. “I really want to see the team get stronger.”

He has been involved with rowing long enough to have seen other mentors leave the club for college while others have moved on.

“We’re doing a great job of rebuilding,” he added.

Competitions commence in spring. Rogue Rowing competes with other teams from Vancouver to Sacramento.The nearest competitors are in Eugene.

The junior team is composed of high school students but there is also a rowing program for middle school-age youths.

For details about joining or to help the team with expenses, visit https://www.roguerowing.org/