How We Started...
KCRC began as a single ad posted on the Moose Pass Post Office community board in Dec 1996. The first meeting consisted of 4 interested women, and, although none had rowing experience, they decided to give it a try and the club was born. Two of the members began searching for equipment, and in Feb 1997 located 2 used 8+’s at Gonzaga University. Through community donations, membership dues and a no interest loan by a club member, they raised $4500 to pay for both boats and a used set of blades. Transporting the boats to Alaska was a tag-team effort: Gonzaga trailered them to Seattle where a Kenai Fjord Tour Boat set them aboard and sailed them to Seward where they were then transferred onto a Carlile flatbed truck and hauled to the Trail Lakes Hatchery.
Marietta ‘Ed’ Anderson, an ex-colligiate rower from WSU living in Anchorage, heard of our endeavors, and offered to help us in any way. It worked out perfectly as she was anxious to get her hands on a shell again and we needed instruction. In the summer of 1997 we hired our first coach and learned to row. In mid-June Ed suggested we race in Seattle at the Green Lake Frostbite and the Lake Union Head of the Lake Regattas in November. We thought she was crazy, but she persistently kept bringing it up until we decided maybe it wasn’t such a crazy idea after all! She even joked about us becoming famous and getting our picture on the cover of USRowing Magazine. We were excited at the prospect and spent the rest of the season perfecting our technique and conditioning.
When race day finally arrived, it was totally amazing! Not only were we blown away by the sheer number of people and shells , but we were on the lake with more than just our one boat! We raced 2 1000M sprint races that day. What an exhilarating feeling watching our boat crossing the finish line in that first race; it was the club’s very first race. Our novice race was not so smooth. We realized, as the other boats took off around us, that the race had begun and we’d missed the start of the race! After floundering for a few seconds, we got in sync and began rowing hard. We started gaining on the other boats at the halfway point. Our coxswain, Willow Hetrick, kept us going strong, and we crossed the line in a close finish. Ed met us at the dock where she told us we had finished second! We were elated! She and Willow went to get the awards but returned instead with first place medals!
The Head of the Lake was the next day and, although it wasn’t quite as eventful as missing the start of a race and still coming in first, it was another memorable experience to row our very first head race.
Being from Alaska brings its own sort of celebrity status, and we were treated as such while in Seattle. Susan Parkman from USRowing took pictures of us and wrote a story about our club. Ed’s teasing turned out to be prophetic. Although we weren’t on the cover, in Jan 1998 we were a story in the USRowing Magazine!