Despite injury, Austin Lamar finds way to stay involved at Marin Rowing
November 13, 2019
“My first practice here, I was a little worried because I’m just a 17-year-old kid coaching adults who have kids in my grade. Some of them even have kids in college. They are just all so much older than me and I was nervous,” Senior Austin Lamar said.
For much of high school, Lamar had been involved in Marin Rowing’s teenage competitive program. Immediately falling in love with the sport, he hoped to be able to continue onto the varsity level the following season.
“Once I got out into the water, taking strokes was just peaceful. It was something new and unique. Going out into the water everyday, it was all glassy. It’s appealing to watch, just the blades coming back, skimming and cutting through the water,” Lamar said.
Unfortunately, an abrupt back strain mid season made it extremely painful and dangerous for Lamar to row. After months of physical therapy and recovery time away from the team, Lamar made the decision to leave the team so as to not worsen the injury.
Determined to remain involved with the program, Lamar consulted with his former coach, Amanda Harvey, who recommended that he assist the Marin Rowing Masters team alongside head coach Felix Meier.
The Marin Rowing Masters team is an adult program that gives members an opportunity to row regardless of experience. Everyday, Lamar wakes up at 5:30 a.m. to attend practices, where he coaches a team of eight adults ranging from 40 to 70 years old.
After Lamar joined the coaching staff this fall, Meier has witnessed a tremendous improvement in their operations.
“So far we’ve been able to have practices that wouldn’t be possible with a team this size and one coach. The way that we’ve been able to develop as a team and keep people safe is great,” Meier said. “Making sure people are in a position to succeed and not put themselves in danger is so much of what we’re trying to do out here. We can row more and more safely with Austin.”
For the competitive team that trains for several national races throughout the year, Lamar works diligently to make sure they are prepared for their next event. Considering the difference in both age and experience, Lamar admits practices can be a challenge sometimes.
“It’s very difficult being together in one boat. Trying to make it like it’s just one person rowing in an eight [boat] is also very difficult. Instead of working as eight individual athletes, you really have to work as one,” Lamar said.
Masters Novice rower Donna Norstad has been on the team for over a year and admires Lamar’s ability to comfortably direct and control them.
“I think he has enough experience and we have enough lack of experience that it really works together. He’s really patient which is important because we require a lot of patience because we do a lot of things incorrectly,” Norstad said. “It can be scary because we could knock into bridges and ferries and things and he always knows what to do.”
Unable to rejoin the teenage rowing team based on the extent of his injury, Lamar views his coaching as a fortunate opportunity to stay involved in a program that he enjoys. Not only does he have a chance to continue being out on the water, but he gets to pass on his expertise to other rowers in vastly different age groups.
“I missed rowing a lot and this became a way for me to stay involved. Not everyone gets the opportunity to be a coach, especially as a 17-year-old. I think it’s a unique opportunity,” Lamar said. “The people on the team are so welcoming and they want to be here. [Them] wanting to be here makes me want to be here too.”