Volume XII, Issue 45: June 20, 2014

Announcements and Calendar Items
Last Friday, Exchange Student Alex Rialet was off somewhere (with former Host Dad Angelo Bacigaluppi, I think). He’ll have a lot to tell us at our next meeting – his parents visiting from France, his graduation, the Safe and Sober party, etc. etc. Looking forward to it!

The search continues for a third host family for next year’s Inbound Exchange Student – a young woman from Brazil. She would be joining the family from April through July. If you’re interested, please let President Jessica know.

The survey to determine the shape and future of our Fabulous Spring Fundraiser is underway! If you haven’t yet been contacted, you will be soon. Please be sure to review Bob Johnson’s email so you have a chance to think about the questions before they’re asked!

This Sunday, June 29th, the North Bay Rotaract Club will host a social and membership event at Redwood Park. The get-together will take place from 2 to 4 pm, and it counts as a make-up. Plus, you’ll be supporting a great group of young people, and you’ll have a great time!

If you’re a history buff, Lori Breyer suggests that you highlight Monday, July 14th. At 7 pm, the Humboldt Historical Society will host “Jack London – Battle at the Oberon”. Over dinner and drinks at the Oberon Grill, you can hear about the epic fisticuffs between the famed author and Albert Stanwood Murphy of Pacific Lumber Company, on the site of the donnybrook.

Kyle Visser had welcome news – he will no longer be teaching his morning class for his church, so he will be attending our meetings much more regularly now!

President Jessica read a thank you note from the Family Resource Center at Arcata Elementary School. The note expressed appreciation for our support of the Backpacks for Kids program. Without our contributions, many more children would have a tougher time in school, due to an inadequate diet.

World Community Service Committee Update
Jim Maher shared some photos of the recently completed Swat Valley Water Filtration Plant in Pakistan. Our Club has been providing support for residents  in the Swat Valley for a few years now, and our latest effort has been supporting the construction of the plant in Shehbaz Village.

Jim said that the World Community Service Committee has three main criteria for projects it undertakes and/or supports: First, the project must address a community need. Second, it must be sustainable. And third, there must be ongoing management for the project. The Filtration Plant project addresses those issues. 

The goal in building the plant was to provide safe drinking water for
the residents of the Swat Valley, reducing the incidence of
waterborne diseases, such as hepatitis, and malaria. The plant
serves 2,300 people in 280 households.

Jim noted that one of the remarkable things about this project is how quickly it was completed. The total cost of the project was 7,250 USD, $1,000 of which came directly from our Club. The photo above shows our Club’s name prominently displayed on the wall of the plant.

Howard Stauffer added that the Committee is looking into the possibility of helping build additional plants in other villages in the valley.

Presidential Recognitions
It was the last meeting that President Jessica would be able to exert some control, so she wanted to recognize some Special Sunrisers. First, she had “Sponsor” pins for those who have brought in new members this year: Terri Clark, Ian Schatz, Lori Breyer, Romi Hitchcock Tinseth, and the “Reigning King of New Members”, Angelo Bacigaluppi.

Jessica also recognized those who have had perfect attendance this year: Lori
Breyer, Barbara Browning, Terri Clark, Gregg Foster, Joyce Hinrichs, Bob
Johnson, Dick Johnson, Craig Newman and Jeff Stebbins. Each received a certificate and a “Perfect Attendance” Rotary pin.

Rotary Kids Moving On …
President Jessica ceded the floor to Former President Bob Johnson for a special recognition. “This has always been the Club with kids in it,” he said. “We have all brought our kids over the years.” One reason we are comfortable bringing our kids is because for years, there was one Rotary Kid who was almost always there. “Arguably, Rotary Kid Number One,” he noted, “and that is Brody Johnson.”

Brody graduated from high school the previous week, so Bob asked him to come forward, to talk about his years in Rotary. Bob noted that Brody has had better attendance than many Sunrisers, at least until he started at Arcata High and had music classes during zero period. Bob said that he remembered Brody coming to meetings “in a baby bucket” early on. 

Brody’s first memories of Rotary are from when his father (aka Your Editor) was Club President. The first Exchange Student that Brody remembered was Emilio Piriz, when his family served as a Host Family. 

The photos of Brody that were shown included a picture of him with his first teacher, Kathy Fraser, who was then head of the Mad River Montessori Preschool. We also saw Brody in a hat from the very first Spring Fundraiser – Brisket, Blarney, and Brew. The photo below shows a typical Friday morning pose: “At seven a.m.,” he said, “That’s as wide as my eyes could get.” Bob reminded Brody that he used to ride to Rotary on the back of his dad’s motorcycle. “I think you would be totally awake at that point!”

Brody at Seven AM?

The session closed with photos of Brody’s Valentunes group performing at our Club meeting on Valentine’s Day, and of Brody in his graduation garb with his mother, father, and girlfriend. When Bob asked about his plans for college, Brody said that he will attend College of the Redwoods for the next two years, then transfer to a four-year college to study Music Education, with an eye towards becoming a music teacher.

Brody’s mom, Shelley Johnson, expressed her appreciation to the Sunrisers for guiding Brody over the years. “As parents,” she said, “we want to find good role models and good people to share our childrens’ lives, and you guys have been it.”

Terri Clark contributed one last tidbit about Brody, recalling that he was “probably the youngest person who ever went on an international project”, when he joined his parents at Mexico’s Festival of Brotherhood as an infant.

There were several other Rotary Kids who achieved new educational and professional  heights this spring. Joyce Hinrichs’ daughter Lacey graduated from UCSC on June 13th, and she will be working in the neurosciences. She will be moving home for a year as she prepares to become a physician’s assistant. Her other daughter Kayla recently earned a promotion at ClearSlide, a high-tech sales engagement company, and she will be moving to Chicago to open a new office.

Cam Appleton let us know that his daughter Thea recently earned her Master’s Degree from Portland State University. She teaches the visually impaired, and she hopes to work in Oregon. 

Karen Burgesser said that her daughter Stacie received her Master’s Degree in Psychology a few years ago, and she works for an organization that has a 24-hour crisis hotline. During those years, she has been earning hours towards licensure, and on the previous Saturday, she passed her licensing exam. Stacie is a former Rotary Exchanger, who lived in Sweden during the 1997-1998 Rotary/school year.

Coach of the Year!
Former President Scott Heller introduced last Friday’s Featured Speaker Robin Meiggs, the Head Rowing Coach at Humboldt State. In addition to her important title as Scott’s Bride-to-Be, she was recently named the 2014 Division II Coach of the Year by the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association … for the third time in the past four years! Her team won this year’s national championship by a single point this year, their second championship in three years. Robin is an HSU graduate, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Exercise Science Physiology. 

Robin said that Scott frequently reminds her that HSU didn’t win its first national championship until they started dating; “He wanted me to recognize the crucial role that he has played.” She also wanted to thank Terri Clark for opening Robin’s eyes to the way that coaches are viewed. She said that as she grew up in North Carolina, she spent a lot of time “trying to be invisible”. Terri, in helping Robin become a Paul Harris Fellow, talked about the great things that Robin does. “How does she know what I do?” Robin asked herself. But the recognition instilled a lot of pride in Robin about her abilities and her impact on her team members. 

When Robin arrived at HSU as an undergraduate, she felt it was a happy medium between her upbringing in rural North Carolina and the urban feel of San Jose, where she also lived for a time. Just before earning her undergraduate degree, she took a trip around the world, which taught her to view with skepticism what she learned from the media. She lived in Hawaii for a while, paddling outrigger canoes. She returned to HSU to take the one class she needed to receive her degree. Someone suggested that she check out the rowing program. Upon entering a rowing shell for the first time, “everything I ever knew about what I wanted to be when I grew up completely changed.” She said, “I knew in that moment, that I wanted to be a coach.” She knew that she wanted to coach a team that would compete at a high level. 

So she completed a year of prerequisites (all science classes) to get into the graduate program. Robin completed her graduate degree in 1991. Before she graduated, however, HSU hired her as the Associate Director of the Human Performance Lab. Upon earning her Master’s, she taught 3/4 time, and learned a lot from many mentors. She was also asked to help coach the rowing team, which was then a club sport at HSU. Around 1995, the mandate for gender equity was finally being enforced, and women’s rowing was elevated to intercollegiate status. 

Around this time, Robin was spending her summers coaching with Hartmut Buschbacher, who later coached the German Olympic Team (in 2012). Buschbacher became Robin’s “coach mentor”, and this led to her selection in 19959 as an assistant coach for the US Rowing Team that went to the National Championships, where they won for the first time since the 1980s. On the way home, Buschbacher offered her a paid position, but Robin had just signed her first real contract with HSU. Other offers have come her way over the years – Georgetown, Michigan State, and the University of Michigan have been among her suitors – and the offers (all from Division I schools) made her really think about what she wanted to accomplish. An athlete in her program is “not going to be a professional rower when you graduate.” So for Robin, it’s about mentoring the members of her team. She helps them grow during the years that they are in her program, “and the remarkable thing is the transformation” she observes over that time. A line she hears a lot is, “Coach – you’ve changed so much over the last four years.” She just nods her head and agrees. 

Practices start at five in the morning, and the athletes work on rowing about 20 hours per week. Following practice, they head for their 8 o’clock classes. Many of the women work part-time jobs after school. Between these activities and others (including relationships), their commitment must be strong. Robin says that they also work hard academically – “they’re making grades”. She promotes a philosophy of “Life In Balance”. She lets them know that balance is not easy – but she believes that she helps them determine and maintain their priorities.

“This was supposed to be a building year for us,” Robin said. Some of the women had taken time off from working out, and their fastest woman left the team. So the group dedicated itself to working really hard. But when you aren’t competing, it is hard to get a sense of how fast you really are, especially on a body of water that is moving. “You’re either really fast or really slow,” Robin told us, “but you don’t really know … until March.”

In direct competition with Western Washington (their main rivals), with a star rower on the bench with bronchitis and another key athlete out of the boat, the team lost by five seconds. Robin said that she felt good about that race, since they were competitive despite the absence of two strong athletes. A subsequent victory over Western Washington put HSU in first place – where they had never been one month before the end of the season. Being in that position all but guaranteed HSU a slot in the Nationals.

That knowledge allowed the team to train in a different manner than it otherwise would have. The key was now to peak at the National Championships. The group took a charter to Indianapolis for the event, and they felt “like rock stars”. However a key member of the team had suffered an elbow injury in a bicycling accident, and would be unable to compete. Robin felt that the team would be competitive in the 8-person race, but probably not in the 4-person race. 

The 4-member team took third, and they were disappointed. But Robin pointed out that being third in the nation is not such a bad thing. Then the 8-person team trailed during the first half of their race, but pulled out a win at the end. “It was a beautiful race to watch,” Robin said. “It was flawless. It was all of those things that you hope and try to prepare for.”

Still, Robin believed that Western Washington had won the championship. However, when the team was walking over to retrieve their boat, an assistant came flying up, “turning cartwheels”, to tell them that they had won! Nova Southeastern had edged Western Washington, which meant that the HSU team had won by a single point. 

Robin told the women that winning the National Championship would not change their lives. “But it is going to prepare them for a lot of great things to come. It’s a small part of the package. Rowing is really less about athletics and more about the real life scenario – how to get up early, how to work out hard, how to manage your time, how to prioritize the things you think are important.”

Scott – Start Swimmin’ !!!