Youth Rowing Team Shines At Regatta, Determined To Overcome Arson

Saturday, April 23rd 2016, 9:07 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa's youth rowing team hit the water on Saturday for the first time since an arsonist torched its clubhouse.

High school teams from all across the region were at the Route 66 Regatta on the Verdigris River, but for the Tulsa Youth Rowing Association, their trip here was a lot more difficult.

In the middle of winter training, the Tulsa Youth Rowing Association got a surprise when members found their clubhouse burned on the banks of the Arkansas River.

Vandals broke in and set it on fire, destroying everything from workout equipment to oars.

The high schoolers who trained at the River West location relied on friends in the rowing community -- the University of Tulsa stepped in and helped out with storage and training space at Rogers Point.

“The spirit of the club endures, obviously the arson to the boathouse was a setback, not one we can't overcome," TYRA’s Neil Bergenroth said.

Despite the setback, the team trained all winter and spring for the regatta.

"It's really great to be able to race to be able to essentially bounce back from the fire,” TYRA’s Iain Kazmierczak said. We've been training hard--kinda not letting the fire as an excuse for our performance.”

Parents watched as their kids raced against teams from Dallas and OKC.

Hitting the water to compete as a team will help members stay positive while their home is being rebuilt.

“It's about being a team--just coming to practice every day, not getting angry at each other, making sure that the team chemistry is there,” Kazmierczak said.  “We'll go to dinner after practice, we'll hang out on the weekends, that will unite us.”

The rowing team says it hopes to start demolition of the burned clubhouse next month.