Pulling for Each Other: We Got This, Together

by Sheena Moore

A lot of you probably don’t know me. Or know me well, at least.

You’ve seen my pictures, and you’ve heard my members speak out about various things. I’m made of borrowed equipment, a polluted, dirty river, missing boat plugs, dusty erg rooms, malfunctioning boat speakers…

I’m also made of 40 or so strongly beating hearts. Hearts that pounded when they felt a lump. Hearts that sank when they heard the words “chemo” and “reconstruction.” And hearts that sang when they got in a boat and felt it.

I’m made of sweat, and nerves, and triumph. I’m made of frustration, bad days, and catching crabs. Pulling together gets mentioned a lot.

I’m the ROW team.

And I have some amazing people pulling for me. Pulling with me.

When I first met Jenn, I (not kidding) immediately thought, “Oh god. Gross. A happy person.” A week later, I found myself dragging my lazy butt out of bed to meet her at the lagoon every morning at 6 to row in a double at LPBC. The next week I showed up at ROW practice and never really stopped after that.

I have been a ROW coach for over three years now, and Jenn is one of my dearest, dearest friends. I’m not ready to talk about what she went through earlier this week, in any capacity. But as the person who was lucky enough to be trusted with Jenn’s “baby,” the ROW team, while she’s away, I thought it would be important to tell everybody a bit about exactly who she’s doing it for, and some of the reason she pulls so hard for this team.

Rowing is reserved for the toughest of the tough, people who must train their bodies to exude grace, even when essentially completing a deadlift with every race stroke. The women who join the ROW team seem to be able to sense that about rowing. For many of them, you’d never guess they had cancer unless they told you. From the outside, you’d have no idea what kind of a fight they’d been through to be who they are now — whether they’ve been cancer-free for twenty years, five days, or whether they fight the fight every day.

As an outsider looking in, it seems that these are all the type of women who don’t want to sit in a circle and cry about what was dealt to them in life. They’re problem solvers, they’re active, they’re strong, they’re smart, and they want to come to terms with their feelings in a place with like-minded women where they can equally keep to themselves and leave frustrations and grief on the erg or in the boat, and simultaneously have an amazingly strong support network.

Jenn and I personally strive to treat every single woman who hops on the erg or walks through the gate at the rowing site as an athlete. All of our rowers come to the team with a different attitude in regards to health, weight, cardio fitness level, strength level — and ROW makes many of them see themselves as an “athlete” for the first time in their lives. We’re very careful to not treat them like they’re sick or have been sick — they set their own limits (hopefully at a level higher than they thought!), and all of the coaches then respect that. But ROW is about being an athlete first.

These women radiate inner poise, beauty, and strength that I feel myself absorb at every single practice. I seriously hope that I can even manage to give them back a part of what they, and Jenn, have given me over the years. (I’m terrible at expressing that).

All of this sparked from one woman’s idea. It’s taken it’s own shape and had its ups and downs. But the reciprocal relationship between this team and what Jenn is out there doing is intrinsically and cosmically connected. She was hurt, we were hurt. She has a good day, we have a good day. She feels like she’s flying on a bike, we fly with her.

Doubles for life, Jenn. I miss you and I can’t wait for you to come home safe.

- Sheena

3 comments on “Pulling for Each Other: We Got This, Together

  1. I’m writing this through tears, Sheena. Beautifully said and felt. You are an integral part of this team, and I hope you feel our love and support right back at you. Thank you for supporting us again and again and again. And thank you for that line, “Oh god. Gross. A happy person.” Love it and it’s perfect because we all know now that Jenn can smile through anything; it’s not superficial, it’s down deep. She’s got a whole lot of love in her, and we are blessed to be enveloped in it.

  2. Jenn, your ability to remain committed, positive and happy is truly inspirational, even to those of us who will never know you personally. The world really needs more people like you who can not only persevere through difficult circumstances but be victorious! I know you’re a God-send to the women you serve through ROW. God bless you!