SoNo Rowing's Robin Ritchey Off to Junior National Team Development Camp.
So it should be of no shock that when Ritchey tried rowing in 9th grade that it was a natural fit. She has since dedicated her training towards the sport and now will be spending the summer training with the Junior National Development Team, a program designed to prepare rowers for the rigours of National Team development. Depending on her success, the program selects members for the CanAmMex team - an international team that competes directly against junior team members from Canada and Mexico.
As Ritchey wraps up her first year at SoNo Rowing, Robin has infused the South Norwalk team with a competitive streak that has the entire squad working hard towards this Summer's US Rowing National Championships in Camden, N.J. A major part of the reason the SoNo team has been able to rebuild and be as competitive as ever is based on the performance of Robin and her doubles partner Olivia Clark (Norwalk, CT). Over the Spring season, Olivia and Robin raced up and down the eastern seaboard winning accolades that garnered the attention of National Team coaches.
“It has been a bit of a roller coaster ride,” Ritchey said, recalling various races this Spring. “We worked hard through the Winter and Spring, focused and determined on our own abilities and self improvement as opposed to thinking of the other crews.”
A self-professed work-aholic, Ritchey competes to win. And while the 5'5, 110 pound frame is dwarfed by her rowing counterparts, it has quickly become known around the team that the minimum is not acceptable to her. Ritchey is the type of athlete that shows up for extra practices in the morning, launching a single shell in the dark to get extra miles in before school. The SoNo Rowing team had a challenge over the winter season for rowers to amass over a million meters rowed.
Ritchey was the only rower who did.
“Chris (SoNo Rowing head coach) provides a single challenge at the beginning of each season,” Ritchey said. “I wanted something to push me and something to strive for.” Athletes like Ritchey is why Chris Wyant is confident in the SoNo Rowing resurgence. With so many rowing programs like Connecticut Boat Club and Saugatuck Rowing Club in the area, the number of rowers in the area is spread thin. With a new and intentionally small program such as SoNo's - the focus is placed on the athletes to be bona fide boat movers and have the ability to compete against programs with numbers in the 100's.
“It's a lot about evaluation now,” Wyant said. “Because we limit our team to 24 athletes, we need to make sure that those in our programs have the drive and focus to be a part of our team. There is so much work that is involved with being in school, a full time athlete, and any extra curriculars these kids have that we really have no room for distractions.”
Yet Wyant was lucky with Ms. Ritchey, that's because the Wilton High School Sophomore sought out the small South Norwalk program after talking to various classmates that all rowed at various programs. Knowing that her size would be seen as a hinderance at other programs, she came to SoNo looking to be coached how to row and race as opposed to being told that she could only contribute by being a coxswain (the person who steers the boat).
“I work best when I have a target and a goal,” Ritchey said. “That's what pushes me everyday to be greater. What I like about this team is that there is always room for development and improvement. I like being a part of a team where there is always time to sit down and talk to my coach about goals and expectations, to have a dialogue with all of my teammates, and be a part of a program that cares about my academics as well.”
Ritchey, an honor roll student with attention from various college coaches, has set her goal on competing in college followed potentially by a chance to train for the 2020 Olympics. Based on her recent strides in the sport and accomplishments from USRowing internationally, only time will tell how far Robin Ritchey can go.
If you are interested in SoNo Rowing programs for you or your child, contact head coach Chris Wyant at SoNoRowing@gmail.com or visit www.SoNoRowing.com.
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