Accessible rowing is goal

Accessible rowing is goal

North Star Community Rowing provides options for an array of people wanting access to the Mississippi River. 

“Before I joined this, I didn’t work out that much,” said18-year-old Austen Harris. “I sat on the couch all day.” 

North Star’s main goal is to expand the sport to people it is typically offered to, including war veterans, adults with disabilities, and youth from under-resourced communities. 

Together, they continue to learn life lessons through both practices and trips to compete in regattas out of state. Often those visits double as opportunities to tour college campuses, meet other competitive rowers, and build community within the small team. 

North Star’s main goal is to expand the sport to people it is typically offered to, including war veterans, adults with disabilities, and youth from under-resourced communities. 

“It’s just beating the stigma that it’s a white person’s sport,” said 16-year-old Araya Pettiford. “It’s not a white person’s sport, it’s for everybody.” 

But with a reputation as an exclusive, expensive, privileged sport very few other rowers step into practice waters similar to like those along north Minneapolis shoreline, or walk around broken glass with every launch. 

“As you can see that water is not at all clean, it’s slimy,” says Pettiford. That is why the non-profit just signed a lease to build a walkway and dock on the south side of the Upper Harbor Terminal Development. 

“It’s really for the whole community to have that dock,” said Anne Hinrich, board member for North Star Community Rowing. “It would be the first place that if you use a wheelchair that you could access the Mississippi River.”” 

The rowing group needs $43,000 to make the launch happen. This summer a local film premiere of A Most Beautiful Thing doubled as a fundraiser. The chronicle of the first all-Black rowing team out of Chicago also served as the inspiration to start North Star Community Rowing five years ago. 

“It almost brings me to tears to think about that. If it weren’t for North Star, I don’t know of any other outlet that would take us,” said adaptive rower Greg Torp. 


(Source: KMSP-TV)