This past weekend saw the hosting of the 2023 Rowing Canada Aviron (RCA) National Conference in person for the first time since 2020, and provided an opportunity to ‘open the doors wider’, reflect, engage with rowing leaders and plan the future of the sport.
Welcoming over 150 members of the Canadian rowing community to Victoria, BC, on the lands of the Lkwungen People, also known as the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations communities, the National Conference witnessed attendees connecting and collaborating across the weekend.
RCA Chief Executive Officer Terry Dillon was delighted to welcome members from across the entire rowing community together again.
“It has been wonderful to have our rowing community gather together once again in person over the past few days in Victoria,” Dillon said.
“The last few years have been difficult for everyone across our sport but having events like this reminds us of the resiliency, commitment and passion our community has for rowing. It has a been a great reminder that we are United by Water.”
“Our membership was also treated to tremendous keynote presentations that I hope has inspired and informed our rowing community, as they have done for me, and I want to thank everyone for their time, knowledge and expertise during the Conference.”
The 2023 National Conference began with an engaging and exciting presentation by Judy Riege to set the tone for the Conference entitled ‘Better: Creators Wanted’.
A plenary session that encouraged attendees to expand and elevate their thinking and vision of what is possible and what is better, and it did just that helping the Conference to become energized.
In the second keynote of the Conference, attendees heard from coaching mentor Cody Royle, who in his presentation ‘Coaches are Performers, Too’, shared the importance of approaching coaching with a performance mindset.
A mindset that encourages coaches to apply many of the same principles they encourage to their athletes to apply the same principles and techniques to themselves.
The final keynote speech of the National Conference was a powerful presentation by Winter Olympian and now a leader in the Safe Sport space, Allison Forsyth.
Forsyth’s keynote speech, ‘The Future of Safe Sport’ shared her expertise on what we all can do to contribute to a safe, happy, healthy and positive environment in our rowing clubs for all participants and shared where the direction Safe Sport is headed in all sports across Canada.
With coaches from across the nation in attendance, RCA Manager Coach Education and Development, Colleen Miller believes it has been an incredible opportunity for coaches to make new connections and leave with new takeaways that will be to the benefit of all rowers.
“I’ve talked to so many coaches and heard from so many people about how this is going to help them and their rowing clubs so much,” Miller said.
“I’ve met so many people who have said, ‘I’ve learnt so much and made so many connections’. I believe it is so important that our community gathers like this and provides a great opportunity for them all to learn new techniques and tactics, ask questions and share their knowledge with one another.”
“It has been unbelievable being at the Conference, delivering coach education, and now having over 180 people at the awards night banquet where the highlight has been having the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic team members and coaches here in attendance and being able to honour them.”
The Conference concluded with the prestigious Excellence Awards night that celebrated the outstanding performances of athletes, rowing clubs, officials, coaches and administrators from across the nation.
It also provided an opportunity for the Canadian rowing community to celebrate the Tokyo Olympians and Paralympians in person, with 20 of the 36 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic rowing team members in attendance.
Tokyo women’s eight gold medallist Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski was thrilled to be able to celebrate with the rest of the Tokyo crews and with the rowing community, with many coaches and club administrators in the room that helped all the Olympians and Paralympians on their journeys to Tokyo.
“It is amazing, it has been so long since we’ve been in the same room together,” Gruchalla-Wesierski said.
“Any opportunity that we get to be together since we’re all not rowing together anymore you have to grasp it… it’s pretty awesome,”
“It is really important [having the National Conference], because being in the high performance program, we don’t get to interact with our community as much as we would want to.”
“It is a great opportunity to get together and meet people and encourage them to come have a chat with us and we can interact and understand that we all want the same things for rowing in Canada.”
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2022 ROWING CANADA AVIRON EXCELLENCE AWARD WINNERS:
Silken Laumann Plate – Women’s Single Sculling Champion – Carling Zeeman (ON)
Derek Porter Trophy – Men’s Single Sculling Champion – Liam Smit (BC)
Lagoa Rio Trophy – Outstanding Performance by a Para Athlete – Patrick Levis (BC)
Kathleen Heddle and Marnie McBean Plate – Women’s Pair Champion – Avalon Wasteneys (BC) & Sydney Payne (ON)
George Hungerford and Roger Jackson Trophy – Men’s Pair Champion – Jakub Buczek (ON) & Curtis Ames (AB)
Wendy Wiebe Trophy – Lightweight Women’s Single Sculling Champion – Jill Moffatt (ON)
Brian Thorne Trophy – Lightweight Men’s Single Sculling Champion – Emerson Crick (NS)
NRC Provincial Points Challenge Efficiency Award – Row Ontario
NRC Provincial Points Challenge Grand Champion – Row Ontario
World Rowing U23 Championships
Women’s Doubles – Silver – Elisa Bolinger & Grace VandenBroek
Lightweight Men’s Singles – Bronze – Stephen Harris
World Cup III
Women’s Eight – Silver – Cassidy Deane, Morgan Rosts, Sydney Payne, Alexis Cronk, Kirsten Edwards, Jessica Sevick, Gabrielle Smith, Avalon Wasteneys, Kristen Kit (coxswain)
World Rowing Championships
Women’s Eight – Bronze – Alexis Cronk, Kirsten Edwards, Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski, Sydney Payne, Morgan Rosts, Jessica Sevick, Gabrielle Smith, Avalon Wasteneys, Kristen Kit (coxswain)
FISA Medal Winning Coach – Carol Love
LONG SERVICE AWARDS
Philip Hedrei – Montreal Rowing Club
Tracey Newman – St. Catharines Rowing Club
Arnold Vandermeer – OAR
Brian Fiori – Ottawa Rowing Club
Salvatore (Sam) Baio – St. Catharines Rowing Club
George Darte – St. Catharines Rowing Club
Lynda Dundas – Don Rowing Club
Andrew Lamont – Winnipeg Rowing Club
Greg Pinder – St. Catharines Rowing Club
John Mirynech – St. Catharines Rowing Club
Ian Muir – St. Catharines Rowing Club
Steve Dmytrasz – Don Rowing Club
Walter Martindale – Edmonton Rowing Club
Peter Vilks – Pinawa Rowing Club
Dr. Bryan Hillis – Regina Rowing Club
Dr. David Millar – Regina Rowing Club
Mike Walker – Ottawa Rowing Club
Bill Ross – St. Catharines Rowing Club
Ann Haver – Saskatoon Rowing Club
Paul Beedling – St. Catharines Rowing Club
Bob Haver – Saskatoon Rowing Club
Bob Ellard – Regina Rowing Club
Jack Lovett – St. Catharines Rowing Club
James Walker – St. Catharines Rowing Club
Brian Thorne – St. Catharines Rowing Club
Andy Binda – Ottawa Rowing Club
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR
David Ukrainetz – Saskatoon Rowing Club
UMPIRE OF THE YEAR
Errol Bosman – Calgary Rowing Club
COACH OF THE YEAR
Andrew Knorr – Saskatoon Rowing Club
CLUB OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT OF THE YEAR
Gorge Narrows Rowing Club
TONY ZASADA AWARD
Alizée Brien – University of Montreal/Montreal Rowing Club
UNDER 23 ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Elisa Bolinger & Grace VanderBroek
SENIOR ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Women’s Eight – Alexis Cronk, Kirsten Edwards, Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski, Sydney Payne, Morgan Rosts, Jessica Sevick, Gabrielle Smith, Avalon Wasteneys, Kristen Kit (coxswain)
Zak Lewis – Ottawa Rowing Club
We encourage everyone to complete the ‘Conference Survey’ and provide RCA with your feedback by February 11, 2023.