About a mile into Cedar River Trail Park, you drive past what looks to any uneducated passer-by like a pile of something between trash and antiques enclosed by chain-link fencing and a combination lock. A sign that used to be white located on one side of the metal monstrosity reads “Renton Rowing Center: Row, Paddle, Play.” Any Renton rower knows that inside the suspicious blue tarp bundles are eights built by George Pocock, that the pieces of barge leaned against the back wall are where we all took our first strokes, and that the boats we were grateful even floated used to be all we had. We call it the pen.
Five years ago, Renton Rowing Center wasn’t much more than the pen. The junior team had five members. Anna Marvin, a graduating senior, has been at Renton since the beginning. She says there were always new people, and for a few seasons, she was the only girl. Anna is a part of a legacy at Renton, and she knows better than anyone just how far RRC has come.
Anna embodies the phrase “I am Renton.” She has been to every regatta where we borrowed boats, used shoelaces as heel ties, and still got “Renton Last.” She knows how to play tetris to strap down boats and oars onto our too small, spray painted, DIY trailer. Anna is familiar with which singles seat always falls off because it’s taken a fall onto the highway, and has long gotten over her arachnophobia, so she doesn't mind fending off the spiders in the boats stored outside. Every boat that has ever been in the boathouse has probably been rowed by Anna, and she definitely did it with a smile on her face. When we got a new quad after last year's Evening On The Docks, Anna was one of the first juniors to row in it, and she couldn’t get over how different it was from the boats in which she had started her rowing career. With this year’s goal for Evening On The Docks being $50,000 for our fifth year, everyday 6 more rowers could have a new boat experience that Anna and others have been given. Renton rowers have always loved our boathouse even when it wasn’t much of a house at all, but rowers like Anna show us that there is no ceiling on the opportunities rowing can provide.
The pen that Anna started rowing out of now stores boats no longer in use. Among the boats and broken oars, there's some windsurfing boards and a strange almost sailboat. There used to be water skis and some kayaks. There is a basketball hoop with the backboard broken off, and three basketballs we found in the lake. The pen is Renton, just as much as the boathouse is. Everything in the pen has a story, and as Renton continues to grow past its current stage of being an underdog boathouse, the story will grow with it.
Help us get to our fundraising goal by joining us for the 5th Annual Evening on the Docks at Renton Rowing Center on Saturday, July 27th. Reserve your seats today!