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New rowing club president Jeff Griffin has vision for expanding sport through youth movement

Corner Brook native Jeff Griffin near dockside at Brake’s Cove in Corner Brook. Griffin is hoping to get more young people into rowing in his role as president of the Humber Valley Rowing Club.
Corner Brook native Jeff Griffin near dockside at Brake’s Cove in Corner Brook. Griffin is hoping to get more young people into rowing in his role as president of the Humber Valley Rowing Club.

Jeff Griffin put a team together for a rowing regatta in Brake’s Cove back in 2004 after his sister, Kelly, put the idea in his head.

At that time, the Humber Valley Rowing Club had several competitive men’s and women’s teams active on the water and eager participants in the annual Royal St. John’s Regatta.

There was a beehive of activity on the water and people from all walks of life were involved in the sport.

That hasn’t been the case for a number of years and Griffin is hoping to change all that as the new president of the local rowing club. He said the club’s previous executive, which included Lori Hynes and Sally Lavers serving as co-presidents, decided to step down because of time restraints, but they have informed Griffin they will still lend a helping hand when they can.

“Over the years the club kind of just shrank and eventually it almost collapsed at one point,” he said.

The club is gearing up for another season with plans to expand the sport on the west coast. Corner Brook businessman Bill Barry has agreed to have the club’s boats refurbished over the summer, so there shouldn’t be any issues with boats this year, and an effort will be made to expand the sport by getting youth on the water this summer.

“We’re just kind of overhauling the club and trying to expand it. That’s the main goal,” he said.

Rowing is big on the east coast, with several regattas held annually. Griffin knows the sport won’t grow to the point where it stacks up against teams on the east coast at this point in time, but he has a vision for expanding the club and making the club’s regatta a community event where it will be a festival atmosphere for all hands to enjoy.

“We’re never going to be on par with what St. John’s is, but we want to grow it and get more youth involved,” he said.

“We want to get the young people in there because most of our members are a lot older, so we’d like to get some younger people in there to grow the sport. If you get a few young teams in there, then word gets out.”

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