When Tara Morgan learned to row, she only stuck with it for two seasons before opting for other sports. But like for many of us, rowing lured her back in. And now, as the Founder of Seize the Oar, Tara has launched the Global Inclusive Learn to Row Project – an initiative to bring together LTR coaches and students through online video tutorials.

In an exclusive interview with RowSource, Tara talks LTR, coaching adaptive rowers, inspiration, and her goals for the Global Inclusive Learn to Row Project.

When did you get involved with rowing?
I grew up in Oak Ridge, TN, the home of Oak Ridge Rowing Association, host to some of the Southeast’s best regattas, and a spring training destination for collegiate crews. I started rowing in 1986, but only rowed for two seasons. I came back to masters rowing in 2008 with Conibear Rowing Club in Seattle.

When did you start coaching?
In 2010 I was rowing out of Mount Baker Rowing & Sailing with Conibear Rowing Club and saw an opening for a Learn to Row masters coach. I jumped at the opportunity. I was always preaching the “gospel” of rowing and recruiting random people in line at the store, so creating an Intro to Row Day and a full Learn to Row curriculum was a great fit. I taught LTR at that facility for 10 years and then brought that coaching experience to Vashon Island in Washington State where I now live, row, and coach.  

What sparked you to establish Seize the Oar in 2013?
A coach introduced me to a spinal cord injury survivor and athlete named Aaron who wanted to learn to row. Once I met him I knew I needed to learn more, know more, and advocate for inclusion in our sport. Over seven years later, Seize the Oar is still the largest, fastest, and most known (and only) adaptive/inclusive rowing program in the Pacific NW. 

Our next 12 months is about changing that landscape and widening the lens by creating pathways to train new adaptive coaches and advocate for inclusion and readiness at every boathouse and club in the region. 

When the Global Inclusive Learn to Row Project was announced in late April you asked coaches to share one LTR lesson via video. What are the parameters for submission?
Originally, Seize The Oar head coach Emma Bennett and I were going to make a bunch of Intro to Row videos and then I thought: crowd-sourcing content sounds way more fun than seeing my face on Zoom day after day. We’re asking coaches to submit a 2:00 video with the following:

  1. Coach’s name
  2. Coach’s club
  3. Coach’s location (city, country)
  4. Please say “This is Global Learn To Row” in your native language

The rest of the video is whatever a coach wants to feature from Learn to Row! Drill basics, hand placement, how to carry a boat, good layback, getting in and out of a boat, etc. We ask coaches to be kind, imaginative, inclusive, and to consider all ages and abilities!  

The videos will be posted online and we ask coaches and rowers to share them with their boathouse communities.

For more information, ideas, and to submit a video visit seizetheoar.com.

What sort of response have you received?
There’s been lots of interest and enthusiasm. The challenge is reaching the Learn to Row coaches at clubs. Our Learn to Row Facebook page just crossed the 500 follower mark and our private Learn to Row Group Facebook group is now over 300, thanks to the posts about the Global Inclusive Learn to Row Project. We’ve received video submissions from Kenya, New Zealand, France, England, and the United States. 

Your deadline for submission is May 10. When do you hope to have videos edited, captioned, and ready to post? 
Clubs are starting to open up in many parts of the world, but Learn to Row is probably the last thing on coach and program director minds. This project will launch globally and get into every club possible by the end of May!

If there’s a really great response to this project, would you consider accepting another round of video submissions?
Absolutely. We are very interested in all the unique approaches to learning to row and, especially in this lockdown time, how to explain basic concepts without a boat, or a boathouse, or a rowing machine. 

What’s the best piece of rowing/training advice you ever received?
The Rower Life Cycle:

  • First: don’t screw up
  • Second: match 
  • Third: contribute 

I use this every time I’m in a boat myself and I share it regularly with my adult learners. It’s got forgiveness, challenge, and a structure that every rower would appreciate. I credit this to Sara “The Baker Beast” Nevin and Coach Eleanor McElvaine.


Find out more about Seize the Oar and the Global Inclusive Learn to Row Project at www.seizetheoar.com and on the Learn to Row Facebook page.

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