With practice six days a week, Reid Matheison is no ordinary high-school student.
The sophomore at Dr. Phillips High School joined the Orlando Area Rowing Society in its inaugural year for middle-school students. Five years later, rowing with high-schoolers, his parents have seen incredible growth in many ways.
“Just physically it’s pretty amazing,” Rob Matheison, Reid’s father, said. “But, obviously there’s a lot of dedication and discipline for this sport, and I feel like it brings a lot out of the kids because it takes a lot of commitment to follow through with this.”
Not only do the rowers learn all of the ins and outs of the sport, but also they learn key strategies that they will carry with them through life.
“One of the main things I think it’s taught Reid is his time management,” Sandy Matheison, his mother, said. “He just is so disciplined for himself — to be a 16-year-old kid and so committed to getting the right amount of sleep, eating the right things, getting his school work done and prioritizing everything with the six-days-a-week practice.”
Along with his time management, Reid has picked up communication skills along the way. Being able to win a race goes far beyond sitting in a boat with oars; without communication, the team would fall overboard.
“I’ve learned a lot about being a leader and being able to talk to people through just talking to the guys on the team or going out and recruiting new rowers every year,” Reid said.
As the Matheisons have learned as a family, rowing can be different from many traditional sports. One aspect is that without cohesive teamwork, the boat will not succeed.
“It definitely is the ultimate team sport, because you either all succeed together or you all fail together,” Rob said. “They really have to stick together as a team and pump each other up and help each other push forward.”
As it is with many sports, communication is key. Learning to listen to peers and work together is always a milestone for athletes and one of the key takeaways for Reid.
“It’s learning a lot of discipline, because you’ve got to listen to people, make sure you know what they’re talking about,” Reid said. “You can’t just go off and do whatever you want, or else you won’t do well.”
ABOUT THE EVENT
The Orlando Area Rowing Society hosted its 17th Annual Youth Invitational Regatta March 14 at Turkey Lake Park in MetroWest.
The event is one of the premier rowing events in the southeast United States and is known to attract more than 1,000 rowers from around Florida and nearby states.
Races launched roughly every seven minutes along the 1500-meter course on Turkey Lake.
The Orlando Area Rowing Society, which began in 1999, operates out of Kelsey Boathouse on the shore of Little Lake Down in Windermere, and has several youth and high-school-age members from West Orange County.
More information about OARS can be found online at oarsrowing.com.