Kate Wilson was the founder and Head Coach of the Barrie Rowing Club, which she formed during the winter of 1988. She led a group which established a constitution, acquired equipment, found a suitable location, developed a program, and conducted a community awareness and membership drive. By early summer of 1988, the fledgling Barrie Rowing Club had 65 members, two nationally certified coaches, four rowing shells, a coach boat, and a temporary boathouse/storage facility. Wilson continued as both Head Coach and President in 1989, overseeing an increase in the club’s membership to 100, an increase in its nationally certified coaching staff from two to nine, and the addition of two more rowing shells. The youth program increased the club’s membership from a dozen high school students to more than thirty. Wilson relinquished the President’s duties in 1990 in order to concentrate on her role as Head Coach. She developed the “buddy system” of coaching to allow novice coaches to learn from more experienced ones. This is consistent with the club’s co-operative learning style of operation. The competitive rowing program was expanded in 1990, and four young rowers competed in the Ontario Summer Games. Barrie Rowing Club crews have competed with distinction at regional and provincial regattas, even winning medals at the famed Henley Regatta. Through only three short years of operation, the Barrie Rowing Club now competes successfully against the established Argonaut, Hanlon and Don Rowing Clubs. The Club’s profile was expanded during 1990 when Wilson organized a National Masters (over 27) Sculling Camp at the Kempenfelt Conference Centre. A founding principle of the club was the provision of accessible rowing facilities to all citizens of Barrie, and the recognition of the importance of recreational rowers, in addition to the competitive ones. Wilson announced plans to expand the current program to include adaptive rowing for the disabled and for “at risk” (disadvantaged) youth. Kate Wilson has worked very hard to ensure safety and to encourage the development and achievement of the personal goals of all the rowers and coaches she works with. Without her, there would be no Barrie Rowing Club. Her contacts and technical expertise have provided opportunities for rowers that would normally be available only at larger rowing clubs, and she continues to provide a fun, co-operative program for rowers of all levels and goals.
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