YMCA Jr. Rowing Now Varsity Sport in RPS 205

The YMCA of Rock River Valley is proud to announce Rockford Public School District 205 now recognizes Jr. Rowing as a varsity sport.  Athletes who compete in the varsity (i.e., top) boats, and who attend Rockford Public Schools, will receive a varsity letter at the end of the season. The Y is recruiting new participants to join Jr. Rowing.

The Y’s Jr. Rowing Crew is open to students ages 13 to 18. The Rockford YMCA Jr. Rowing Crew competes against regional junior crews from Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana and Michigan. The program peaks in the fall with the annual Head of the Rock Regatta in October. The mission of the YMCA Rowing Crew is to promote the sport of rowing in all its forms including competitive, recreation, and wellness, under the highest standards to all who are interested in a safe, healthy, and fun activity. Members of the YMCA Jr. Rowing Program learn teamwork, discipline, concentration and respect for their fellow teammates and competitors. Rowing is an ideal cross-training sport that improves strength, endurance, and flexibility with little risk of injury.

The Rock River Valley region is fortunate to have access to a sport that many communities do not because of its river access. Over the past several decades, the YMCA Rowing Crew has taught more than 1,000 youth and adults the skills of crew. Many of the youth athletes have earned college scholarships and have gone on to row at various institutions including Princeton, Brown, Harvard, Indiana, Duke, Marquette University, University of Michigan, Miami of Ohio, and Milwaukee School of Engineering. 

“We are proud of our student athletes. We believe their success is our success, which speaks very highly of our program,” said Jane Johnson, Rowing Director, YMCA of Rock River Valley. “We have the perfect venue for this sport that highlights the beauty of our community. Crew provides a new view of the Rock River – it’s quite beautiful and inspiring.”

Rowing Coach Kelly Maffei first learned to row with the YMCA Jr. Crew after graduating from Hononegah High School in 2009. In college, Maffei raced competitively as both a coxswain (i.e., athlete who steers the boat and coaches the team on the water) and a rower for Marquette University Crew. She has competed in regattas across the country, including Boston’s Head of the Charles, Philadelphia’s Dad Vail Regatta, and of course, Rockford’s Head of the Rock Regatta. Maffei began coaching the YMCA Junior Crew the summer of 2014. 

“I appreciate the sport of rowing for its sunrises, whole-body workouts, camaraderie, and never-ending challenge to be a better and more efficient athlete,” said Maffei. “I look forward to our partnership with RPS 205 and watching the crew continue to grow and reach even more athletes.”

“We’re thrilled to have elite athletes in Rockford Public Schools, and we will continue to encourage their participation, growth and high level competition,” said Mat Parker, Director of Athletics, Activities and Program Development for Rockford Public Schools. “We’re committed to working with organizations like the YMCA to ensure our students can have a robust experience while attending RPS 205, regardless if we offer the program or not.”

Steeped in tradition, the YMCA Rowing Crew plays host the Head of the Rock Regatta every October. This decades-old event draws more than 2,000 rowers from across the country and more than 5,000 spectators to the banks of the Rock River. Click here to learn more about the Head of the Rock Regatta.

For more information on the YMCA Rowing Crew or to register for the Jr. Rowing Program, contact Jane Johnson at 815-489-1210 or janejohnson@rockriverymca.org. Additional information can be found online here.