Rowing for Justice: A Team's Response to the Black Lives Matter Movement
In the aftermath of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery's tragic deaths, the Heavyweight, Lightweight, and Women's crews at Dartmouth decided that it was time to act. As members of the Friends of Dartmouth Rowing Club family, camaraderie and teamwork are paramount to our values, so instead of just issuing a statement of support, we decided to take real action and spur real change. Ellie Urdang '22, Hannah Frater '21, Anthony Wang '23, and Michael Green '21 led the charge in organizing a boathouse-wide fundraiser for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
The fundraiser was formatted as a workout challenge where over the weekend of June 26-June 28, athletes across all three teams logged the number of meters that they erged (an erg is a rowing machine), rowed, biked, or ran. The initial goal was to hit 3,000,000 meters as a boathouse. In the end, our boathouse collectively achieved over 7,590,711 meters. The Heavyweights logged 3,346,759, the Lightweights 2,559,035, and the Women 1,684,917. We (pun intended) blew it out of the water!
Rowers across all three teams reached out to family and friends in the weeks leading up to the challenge for pledges and donations. Our initial goal was $10,000, but we ended up doubling that number and raising over $20,100, all of which was donated to the NAACP. Dartmouth alumni, friends, and family members all showed up in support of the fundraiser, a heartening reminder of the strength of our incredible Friends of Dartmouth Rowing community.
As rowers worked out all weekend to get the most meters they possibly could in, a couple of individuals took the initiative above and beyond. Maddie Grussing '23 completed a marathon erg on Friday, a marathon run Saturday, and a marathon erg on Sunday. Regarding her Olympian effort, Maddie commented "I did the 3 marathons for 3 reasons: everyone said I couldn't, there is no stronger motive than taking a step towards racial equality and sometimes you have to push boundaries to make people notice." Theory Miller, an incoming freshman '24 on the Heavyweight team, biked and erged 479,000 meters over the three days. Jack Stone '21 of the Lightweight team eclipsed over 300km on the bike. Justine McGuire '23, despite recovering from a hip injury that set her on the sidelines for the last couple weeks of Winter Term, biked over 160km!
In addition to raising money for the NAACP, our rowing community found it critical to reflect on the systemic oppression that occurs in this country on a daily basis and has been present since the early days of our country. "Black people are the most underrepresented population in rowing, and it is important to actively condemn and combat racial injustices whenever given the opportunity," says Michael Green '21. As a boathouse, we were challenged with reflecting on what we are doing and should be doing to promote racial justice both in our own communities and our sport. Green put together a video of the responses of rowers across the three teams. I encourage you to take the time to watch here.