As far as preppy sports go, rowing is right up there with lacrosse and squash. Which is exactly the reason Judd Anderson and the other volunteers at Reach High Baltimore: Rowers Empowering Baltimore City Youth think it should be taught to kids from all neighborhoods, not just wealthy ones.
This past year, 36 middle schoolers from poor South Baltimore neighborhoods participated in the program, which is run by the Baltimore Rowing Club. They started out as complete novices — many couldn’t even swim. Through regular meetings, the kids not only become skilled rowers; they’re also encouraged”to swim, get fit, and achieve in school,” according to Anderson. There’s even a high school team for kids who stick with the sport.
And while fitness and goal-setting are admirable goals, the project — still in its early years — may have an even more far-reaching impact on participants, since smaller sports (like rowing) are a good way to get scholarships to elite schools. And so while inner city rowing programs are just the beginning to “break[ing] through social, racial, and economic glass ceilings,” they’re a step in the right direction.