Rowing is a sport like none other, says Ella Ventura, a Port Angeles 15-year-old headed to this summer’s US Rowing training programs for Olympic Games-hopeful teenagers.
Ventura, who started rowing at age 11 with former Olympic Peninsula Rowing Association (OPRA) coach Rodrigo Rodrigues and has participated in OPRA’s youth rowing program since she was age-eligible, said she considers the challenge of learning teamwork one of the most important aspects of rowing for teenagers.
For Ventura, a homeschool student, OPRA programs have created an important community.
“It’s my second family,” she said, adding that she feels it’s equally important to many of her teammates who see each other daily in high school classes.
Youth rower advocates say rowing competitions for youths in club, park departments and school teams offer teenagers opportunities to make friends throughout the region — in Ventura’s case, across the country. She said she stays in touch with athletes from regional races, and that she looks forward to rooming with other aspiring Olympic Games and collegiate racers when she travels to Ashland, Ore., this June for a regional US Rowing Under 17 Olympic Development Program. In all, 80 students from the Northwest qualified for the three-week training that concludes with a national competition at a week-long Olympic Development Program Summer Cup in Sarasota, Fla..
Ventura, the daughter of David and Meghan Ventura, is financing attendance at the national training center with the support of the Sequim Bay Yacht Club, a GoFundMe account (https://ie.gofundme.com/ella039s-us-jr-national-team-development-camp) and part-time jobs such as repairing fishing lures and teaching martial arts classes in her parents’ business, Phoenix Dragon Martial Arts.
She’s also sharing her rowing experiences on Instagram at @ella_rowing.
For more about Olympic Peninsula Rowing, see www.parowing.org.