Park City Rowing Academy continues to grow | ParkRecord.com
By Griffin Adams
The Park Record

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Park City Rowing Academy continues to grow

Local club to join the Youth Sports Alliance in September

High school juniors, and members of the Park City Rowing Academy, row on the Jordanelle Reservoir during the sprint season.

Between sailing, jet skiing and paddle boarding, the Jordanelle Reservoir has been a busy place for much of the summer.

Adding to that list of groups that utilize the local body of water is the Park City Rowing Academy, who's seen an increase in numbers during the 2017 season. Creator Niklaus Hess said that the program has grown its master’s program ten-fold within a four-week span over the summer, and has become varsity sport at Park City High School.

Hess is impressed with what he's seen from members of the Academy — specifically the high school athletes — but he realizes that many of them have other obligations.

"Park City Rowing Academy is still known to coach the technically best team in Utah," Hess said. "As the coach, I am hoping to be able to build [the freshmen rowers] over the four years till they graduate. Park City Rowing Academy has to face the fact that many of the athletes are multi-sport athletes, so it takes a great effort to convince highly skilled rowers and their parents to trust and pursue a rowing career."

While becoming a sport at the high school was a big step for the program, Park City Rowing Academy still remains a youth club for all ages. Hess said that with the school year about to start up in the coming weeks, he's expecting a decent number of youth and prep athletes to show interest.

"Every year after school starts, I have a surge of kids that are interested in learning to row," Hess said. "Also, all the rowers are asking their friends to come and try out. So in a couple weeks I assume PCRA will be flooded. We already acquired 12 new rowers since summer break started."

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One of the bigger developments for the Academy, Hess said, is that he hopes to join the Youth Sports Alliance as a member team in the near future.

The goal is for the Youth Sports Alliance — that already boasts local youth teams such as the Park City Ice Miners, Park City Ski & Snowboard Club and Wasatch Luge, among others — and the Park City Rowing Academy to host a four-week program open to junior high kids in September of this year.

"Hopefully [that will] result in even more kids starting the program," Hess said.

An advantage that other rowing clubs in the country have that the Park City Rowing Academy doesn't is that most can row year-round. Hess claims that roughly 80 percent of them have that option, so in an effort to stay active during the winter months, he wants to set up more training camps in warmer areas.

Not only does Hess want winter training for his group, but for surrounding clubs that might experience this issue, as well.

"In the mountain states, we deal with a frozen lake for five months out of the year," Hess said. "We have to resort to other opportunities to stay technical and in shape. PCRA has organized the third winter training camp in Sacramento [this year], that allows them to be ahead of every other team in the region, by about 14 practices on the water.

"I am hoping as a coach that other teams [in the region] will follow with the idea of extending the actual rowing into winter."

The program has made strides toward becoming what Hess originally envisioned it would be, thanks to a steady increase in members each year. But there's still room to grow, he said.

"There is still a lot of work to do on the region’s base," Hess said. "As far as the team, we are hoping to hire coaches and have a better athlete-to-coach ratio. As far as the organization, we are in constant need of volunteers to fill positions such as fundraising, athlete travel and finances.

"I have big dreams and a community like Park City seems to be a good platform to fulfill those dreams, as well as providing an outlet and a promise for the Park City youth."

For more information about the Park City Rowing Academy, visit its Facebook page @RowParkCity.