About two months ago, the girls of Atomic Rowingâ€™s youth team came to Shannon Moore, their coach, and said they wanted to go to the national championship race. Now, theyâ€™ve won the gold medal at regionals and are set to race at youth nationals in Sacramento, California, on June 21.
Since winning gold at regionals, in Florida earlier this month, they have been practicing six days a week. Moore said the team of girls, ranging from eighth to 10th grades, are hungry for a national championship title.
â€œTheyâ€™re just determined,â€ said Moore, who started coaching the team in October of last year. She has been coaching professionally since 1998 and was even the assistant coach for Ivy League rowing at Columbia University in New York City. Now though, she thinks sheâ€™s found her niche with the juniors team here in Oak Ridge.
The girls going to Youth Nationals are Kimberly Cady, Isla McRae, Rae Oleshansky, and Sarah Kate Rogers, with Samantha Barber as coxswain.
The team will rent a boat in Sacramento, where they will spend the weekend and, they hope, bring back the gold.
Their two-hour practices are typically dedicated to aerobics on the water and trying to â€œbeat the clockâ€ with time trials. Moore said itâ€™s harder to stay focused now that the girls are the only Oak Ridge team still practicing.
â€œI think the biggest challenge is that theyâ€™re out there on their own,â€ she said. â€œThereâ€™s no physical boat out there to challenge them, so it really becomes a mental game and a racing-against-the-clock game.â€
The girls practice for two hours on weekday evenings and again Saturday mornings. Itâ€™s tiring, said Moore, but â€œthey want it.â€
Sara Wise is a freelance contributor to Oak Ridge Today.