The Cortlandt Community Rowing Association (CCRA) has made great strides since launching about five years ago, and a Peekskill High School senior is helping to put the non-profit organization on the map with her recent achievement.
Julia Roach, who was a novice to the sport of rowing when her mother, Sol Miranda, encouraged her during her freshman year to give it a try, quickly developed a passion and skill level for it that is now benefitting her in a big way.
Roach signed a recruitment letter from Syracuse University to join its women’s rowing squad in the fall, becoming the first member of the CCRA to draw interest from a Division 1 school.
“That was a real goal the club was excited to make,” said Cortlandt Councilman Frank Farrell, who spearheaded the creation of the CCRA.
“It’s great for the club,” CCRA President Dina Tompkins concurred. “It’s a path for kids to take. It’s a sport that can get you into college. This is such a great opportunity.”
Miranda said her 5’4”, 115-pound daughter was never interested in athletics, preferring instead theater and the debate team, but after joining the CCRA she “felt a sense of purpose to this sport.”
“She loves Cortlandt Rowing. She’s so grateful. I’m so grateful,” Miranda said. “Frank (Farrell) had a vision and it’s given the harvest of fruit in abundance right now and more to come I’m sure. Great things are happening with this club. She has a great coach (Steve Hetman). They’re a great team of people, friends and board members.”
Roach has excelled in the coxswain position on the boat. The coxswain is the member who sits in the stern facing the bow. The coxswain is responsible for steering the boat and coordinating the power and rhythm of the rowers.
“As a coxswain you have to take control and you have to have leadership. She (Roach) has a good leadership about her,” Tompkins said. “She has such a passion for it. She’s fabulous.”
Miranda said her daughter researched how a coxswain functions by watching a lot of online videos.
“It’s a very demanding sport,” Miranda said. “Once she really dug in, her command with the sport blossomed.”
The CCRA offers rowing and training opportunities for students from fifth to 12th grades, along with adults. The club currently has 55 youth members, 20 adults and eight “Little Vikings,” drawing individuals from Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess and Rockland counties. It started with only eight members.
Roach is planning to study political science at Syracuse. Her mom said her goal is to be a senator since “she loves to argue. She loves to debate.” She will be one of two coxswains in the Class of 2023.
“When you balance the gifts and the opportunity she has been given as a D1 athlete, I think you cannot pass on an opportunity like this,” Miranda said. “It’s like a lifetime opportunity.”