Daily Hampshire Gazette: Community Rowing has director, ergathon

Friday, April 15, 2016 NORTHAMPTON — The Old Courthouse lawn may seem like an odd place to row, but around 75 athletes from Northampton Community Rowing are planning to do just that Saturday, competing on rowing machines to raise money for new equipment.

After many years at the Oxbow Marina, the organization has moved to a spot at the city’s new Connecticut River Greenway Park, and is now looking to expand its membership and open up access to the river through other activities such as canoeing or kayaking.

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Saturday, the club will host an ergathon, hoping to raise about $10,000 as part of its Valley Gives campaign. Divided into two teams, blue and gold, the nonprofit organization’s members will each row for 20 minutes. Donations will be matched by the Thomas Lyons Boat Fund.

The nonprofit recently hired a new director of programs, Todd Gocken, 43, who comes to Northampton from Chicago and began the job Feb. 1.

“In a lot of ways it’s my dream job because I get to build a program,” he said. “The program I’m inheriting is a lot smaller than what it could be.”

Gocken, who founded his school rowing team while at the all-male Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, in the early 1990s, most recently worked as program director of the Chicago Training Center and head coach of the Northwestern University’s men’s rowing team. He has also worked as a water ski instructor, competitive sailor and sailing instructor, as well as on a fishing boat in Alaska.Gocken said he was drawn here because he found Northampton Community Rowing to be a “really vibrant club.”

With a new location and boathouse, he said the group is poised to thrive. This spring it has about 65 youth and 45 adult participants.

“We have, from our perspective, almost unlimited growth potential,” he said.

Reprinted with permission of the Daily Hampshire Gazette. All rights reserved. Stephanie McFeeters can be reached at smcfeeters@gazettenet.com.