Row New York


Rowing has always fascinated us. Brendon grew up near Great River on Long Island, and often saw the teams out practicing, but he never had an opportunity to participate in it. As for Brendon, rowing is another world away for most people; it's very expensive and only takes place in certain schools and communities, most of which are in a position of privilege.

But the beauty of the sport itself, and the dedication required to be successful at it are still inspiring. That's why when we met Jack Carlson of Rowing Blazers we took a real interest. Jack grew up with the sport, and eventually made it to Oxford University, where he did a Ph.D. and raced in the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race. He also made it onto the U.S. national rowing team and won a bronze medal at the World Championships. His brand is a natural extension of his interests and a result of a book he published by the same name.

When we discussed how could work together, he mentioned an organization he supports called Row New York. Established in 2002, Row New York teaches kids the discipline of competitive rowing and provides them with academic support. The organization is run by a dedicated team - including Arshay Cooper, who was, himself, a member of the nation’s first all-black high school rowing team.

Row New York gives people access to a world that's been denied to them for far too long. NYC kids are taught to row and, if necessary, swim—not to mention the help they provide with school and college entry. It's an amazing organization that breaks down the barriers of the elite world of rowing and teaches kids early on that they can be successful with hard work and, in this case, just a little bit of a push. This all sounds a bit cliché, but it's true.

De La

Borough: Manhattan

Position: Rower (Port)

"The water is a place of peace and freedom, and rowing gives me an opportunity to experience this in a way that nothing else can."

Kassandra

Borough: Queens

Position: Rower (Starboard)

"Rowing taught me that I am strong and determined. Row New York taught me that I can accomplish anything as long as I work hard. Row New York showed me that I should strive to be a little bit better every day: on the water, in the classroom, at work, and at home."

Richie

Borough: Bronx

Position: Rower (Starboard)

"Rowing for me has been a gateway into a completely different world. I've experimented with many sports, such as: soccer, tennis, volleyball, and lacrosse, but none of those sports ever gave me the same sentimental value crew gave to me. There's just something about being with a team that feels like family where you depend on each other for motivation, support, and success. In this sport there aren't any MVPs or elite players, we all laugh together, toil together, pull together, lose together, and even better, win together.”

Chazz

Borough: Brooklyn

Position: Rower (Port)

“Rowing makes me feel free. Being on water almost makes me feel like my problems can't touch me.”

Olivia

Borough: Staten Island

Position: Coxswain

"What Row New York means to me is a place that I can go and not worry about school or my responsibilities. I can go there and just be in tune with my boat on the water. Row New York is like a second home to me.”

It currently helps over 4,000 kids in all five boroughs, including adaptive rowing programs for kids with physical and learning disabilities. What’s crazy is a majority of the kids involved row for free—and 99% of the seniors go onto college, which is even crazier considering only about 57% of New York City kids end up enrolling in college. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that 100% of kids in the Row New York program graduate high school and exceed the physical activity level recommended by the CDC.

Noah and Rowing Blazers built our collaboration around the symbols of the five boroughs that Row New York supports. The collection features five emblems representing Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and The Bronx. Each design isn’t just inspired by the historic symbols of each borough, they’re identical to those worn by the kids of Row New York. (For the past few years, Rowing Blazers has presented each high school senior in the program with a blazer, hand-tailored and emblazoned with these symbols on the pocket). The Latin phrase on the sleeve of the hoodies, “Destitutus ventis remos adhibe” is the Rowing Blazers motto and an old proverb that translates to: “If the wind will not serve, take to the oars.”