A Boathouse on Every Block

Writing and Interview by Ellen Kahan

As a three time Olympic Gold Medalist and an NCAA Champion, Elle Logan is one of the world’s great rowers and has traveled the globe to compete. She has experienced many of the world’s most beautiful boathouses-- waterside venues with a history of tradition and excellence. Even her earliest memory of the sport was as a young spectator at the Head of the Charles regatta hosted by the iconic Cambridge Boat Club. But Elle’s current vision for rowing is not about beautiful boathouses but on the presence of a boathouse on every street: boathouses so widespread and accessible that every person has a chance to row as easily as riding a bike or picking up basketball.  

This enchanting idea was born of Elle’s deep appreciation for all that rowing has given to her; an understanding that has only deepened as her life progresses.  For example, take patience and hard work. In her early high school rowing days Elle thought she knew just what to expect. She had the skills and physical attributes that seemed to guarantee rowing success from the beginning.  Elle believed that she was ready to be successful but didn’t understand the work required of her first. When her coach put her in the junior varsity boat when she fully expected a seat in the varsity boat she didn’t like it at all.   When the JV boat failed to win Elle understood she had work to do. Goals were set and with hard work, obtained. Elle discovered that the more she wanted her team to succeed the harder she had to work because the two factors were inextricably tied together.  Hard work blended with camaraderie and shared effort created a team that excelled. As Elle reported, “we went on to win the first northeast championship and the national team championships, but I will always remember that you have to do the work.”

The strength of the team was not just in crossing the finish line first and fastest.  It was also in the deep bonds of friendship that were built by shared effort. Friendships that have lasted to this day but were perhaps most important when “as a high school student things can really be horrible and it is nice to have the team.”  Hard work was an important building block to team unity but so was fun. Nothing could be a more beautiful venue for fun and friendship than skimming over the water rowing in unison.

Through rowing Elle has developed great strategies for good health and healthy living including: building a capacity for patience in reaching your goals, being able to create short-term goals that progressively lead to future achievements, understanding the importance of hard work.  These habits for good health throughout life can be developed when youth are involved in rowing.

Everyone should have the opportunity to build a life of good health and success using rowing as one of the tools to achieve it.  Rowing needs to embrace many more people from all neighborhoods and backgrounds. The world of rowing needs to be as welcoming as having a boathouse on every street.

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