When the Ashland Rowing Club hired Rick Brown to be its executive director and coach — its first-ever paid staff member — in 2015, he said he was excited by the "unique opportunity to take a club to the next level." Two years and eight months later, he has done just that.
Last week, USRowing announced the Ashland club, now known as the Rogue Rowing Club, is the 2017 Club of the Year, chosen from among more than 1,300 clubs across the country.
Much of that recognition is thanks to Brown, who has made a habit of winning the award in his career. The club he came from, Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, won the award twice during his nine years at the helm, and Marin Rowing Association in Greenbrae, California, earned it in 2006, his last year as interim coach there.
But the honor isn't Brown's alone. The club leadership, which took the plunge of hiring Brown, was committed to making the then-15-year-old club more than an all-volunteer community organization, and to see it grow beyond Ashland.
Recruiting from Medford high schools helped to double the number of junior rowers, and the geographic expansion led to the name change last year. Brown helped start a rowing program at Southern Oregon University, and membership in the club's adult groups has grown 50 percent.
Hosting a Junior National Camp for teenage boys has raised the club's profile as well.
The national recognition can't help but benefit the region. Congratulations to all involved.