Junior programs around the country face the same primary challenges. The first is getting the word out that they exist. The second is convincing a kid with no knowledge of the sport to choose rowing over the thousands of other things they could be doing.
Head coach at Marina Aquatic Center, Zohar Abramovitz, has faced these challenges like other junior coaches. However, 16 years into his tenure, his club doesn’t need to actively recruit or advertise. “We are strictly a word-of-mouth operation these days,” says Coach Abramovitz. “The guiding principle is that if the kids in the program are having a good experience, they’ll tell other kids about it and their parents will tell other parents. That seems to have been working.”
And working it is. Since 2010, Marina has had eight boats qualify for the grand final at USRowing Youth Nationals, with six boats finishing in the medals and two National Championships to their credit. Also impressive, their girls have dominated the Youth Fours event at the Head of the Charles Regatta, coming in first or second for the past five years.
Marina’s relationship with Pocock began in 2004. The UCLA Women’s Rowing Team, with whom they share a facility, purchased their first Hypercarbon V8 and their boatman was raving about it.
What cemented the relationship for Coach Abramovitz happened not long after taking delivery of Marina’s first Pocock shell. “The varsity crunched a carbon rigger on the dock and we didn’t have a spare. Based on past experiences with other boat makers, I thought the boat would be out of commission for weeks, maybe the whole season. After practice I called the Pocock shop, and 36 hours later I had a new rigger.”
While the shop in Everett and Marina del Rey are both on the West Coast, they are still 1,164 miles apart. That is the same distance as New York City to Kansas City!
“The boats are great. They are easy to rig, stiff, comfortable to row, quick in the water, and I like the look of them. I think its fair to say that most of the major boat builders build a quality shell. The thing that made the difference for me is the tremendous service we get from Pocock. They stand behind their product like no one else, and their response time is simply amazing.”
Coach Abramovitz credits a philosophy of personal accountability and athlete ownership of the process to Marina’s success. “The journey is theirs and the athletes choose how they wish to pursue it. That results in athletes who are engaged, self-motivated and courageous; things that you need if you want to make boats go fast.”
Based on the consistent success of the club, the boys and girls at Marina are certainly taking that message to heart.