November 30, 2021

Rowing changed the lives of kids on Chicago’s West Side in the 1990s. Now they’re bringing the program to Oakland

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) — Twenty years in the past, a bunch of kids, some of them gang members from the West Side of Chicago, did one thing that may without end change their lives. They took up the sport of rowing. A e book deal and a documentary later adopted and now they’re giving different interior metropolis kids the identical alternative given to them.

As narrated in the movie, “A Most Beautiful Thing,” the West Side of Chicago in the late Nineteen Nineties was tormented by gun violence and crime.

“It was one of those neighborhoods where you hear gunshots when you sleep,” defined Arshay Cooper who wrote a e book about his expertise as an unlikely rower. He informed us as a substitute of selecting schools, many younger males like him have been questioning what gang to be a part of. However that was about to change.

“I walked into the lunchroom one day and there was this boat and this lady walked up to me and said hey, would you like to join the crew team. I said, crew?” added Cooper.

The documentary talks about their skepticism.

“You’re going to take a group of West Side kids to the lake. Nah, that’s not going to work,” one of the former rowing crew members recalled.

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“I’ve seen all these guys from different gangs and these guys were sons of drug addicts, sons of drug dealers, sons of prisoners and I said this is going to be interesting,” expressed Cooper who attended Manley Profession Academy Excessive College.

“There was something about the water that gave us peace and we all needed that,” one other crew member added.

All of the crew members ultimately turned profitable entrepreneurs, their tales informed over and over on the West Side.

Proper after the e book got here out, simply as there was discuss of making a film of their lives, the crew determined it was time to get again to rowing 20 years later. There was just one man who may get them into form

“I have my little mega phone here.” That any person was none aside from Mike Teti, the U.S. Olympic rowing coach.

“So they called me and I said sure you know and next thing I know they were out here in Oakland,” defined Teti.

A partnership was fashioned. As we speak the crew and coach Teti, are serving to to prepare kids from 5 interior metropolis neighborhoods, together with one in Oakland, beginning in October.

“We have inner city kids that don’t have the means or wouldn’t have the means to participate in our sport so we’re going to provide that,” added Coach Teti.

“We want our sport to reflect the diversity in this country, because we believe this sport can change lives,” expressed Cooper.