I hope this finds you in good health, physically and emotionally.
I am writing to tell you that it was announced today that the Stotesbury Cup, SRAA Scholastic Championships, USRowing U15/U17 Championships, and the USRowing Youth Championships have been cancelled.
These were obviously devastating announcements and represent the end of many of the team, squad, and individual goals of SRA. Following those announcements, the NYSSRA (State Championships) for NY was also cancelled.
We at SRA remain hopeful that rowing will commence before the end of the season, and if that is the case, we will investigate the possibility of hosting a regatta in May or the beginning of June. Of course this is very much dependent on a LOT of things that are out of our control. But if there is a possibility of a “Senior Sendoff – Saratoga Invitational” before the summer season, we will do what we can to race and/or celebrate the careers of our seniors and the work you all have put in this year.
I want to take a minute, following this announcement, to just think about where we are as athletes currently — not only us, but also the collegiate athletes and olympic athletes. One of the things we love about our sports is the competition and the opportunity to showcase our talents and our gains. The competition is what we train for and what motivates us to keep pushing harder… but the competition, in the grand scheme of sport, is not it’s true beauty. It is the means by which we extract the beauty of sport. When we train, we accomplish so much of value. We invest in our physical selves. We celebrate health and fitness. We inspire those around us. We connect with other people. We bring the beauty to movement. We explore our limits and push our limits. I recently watched this great TED talk about raising young women, but there is a key point in that talk about “Risky Play”. Sport provides that. Sport trains us in bravery. It trains us in resilience.
A quick story: a few years back, when we were raising money for the training center, we asked a potential donor for a large donation. They responded that they had just donated a large sum to a beautiful sculpture that is quickly becoming an iconic piece of Saratoga. At the time, I was very frustrated. I couldn’t stop thinking that we could do so much more with that money than a sculpture. After a while though, I started to come around in my thinking. I love my town. When my family comes to town, I show them all the cool things that make Saratoga so special… and you know what, I show them that sculpture.
It took a while (I am an engineer in a past life) but it was moments like that that drove home the importance of the arts. While we still could use that donation (now more than ever) I am grateful for the people who invest in the arts. Bringing this full circle, sports is not the same as the arts… but I found similarities as I considered how essential what you do is. We may not be listed as “essential business” on the government’s lists. But what you do is most certainly essential. In the same manner that the sculpture brings me pride in my town. Athletics inspires, it teaches resilience, it teaches community, it reminds us that we are physical beings, it connects people from every race, religion, socioeconomic class. It teaches us to push ourselves to be better. It teaches us to stand up after we fall down. I could go on. The point is, what you do MATTERS regardless if you get to do it against another person. The other person is merely the tool to help you push through your boundaries and to help hold you accountable. You are athletes, you are rowers, and what you do, even if it is in the basement of your house, is essential.
I am sorry to tell you that the championships have been cancelled, but eager to remind you that rowing is so much more than the championships.
We wish everyone the best of health and encourage all to follow the guidelines and make good decisions for yourselves and for those around you. SRA will remain closed physically while the NY on PAUSE order is in effect, but we remain open virtually – because we believe that athletics is essential.
Eric Catalano and all the staff and coaches of SRA.