Family continues bonding through rowing program

Rick Gross, who had two children row for the Owls, is the president of Friends of Temple Rowing.

Friends of Temple Rowing, an organization for rowers’ parents to help fundraise and supply food for athletes, advocated for the restoration of the East Park Canoe House (above) during the 2013-14 academic year. | COURTESY / MICHAEL SHISLER

When Kevin Gross joined the crew team in 1994, his father Rick Gross joined Friends of Temple Rowing — an organization for rowers’ parents to fundraise and supply food at practices and races — to be closer to his son.

After Kevin Gross graduated in 1999, Rick Gross stayed involved, as he hoped his daughter Kelly Goldin would attend Temple and join the rowing team.

Goldin rowed at Temple from 2000-04, and Rick Gross is now FOTR’s president.

“Friends of Temple Rowing does instrumental work for this program,” coach Brian Perkins said. “They really help limit our worries financially as they give us money at the end of each year. We are able to relax knowing the effort FOTR goes through on a daily basis to support us.”

When Temple announced its decision to cut the rowing and crew programs in December 2013, partly due to lack of a boathouse, Rick Gross and other FOTR members created a petition and wrote letters to city officials and the Board of Trustees asking for funds to support renovating the East Park Canoe House on Kelly Drive.

When the East Park Canoe House temporarily closed in 2008, the Owls moved their equipment to tents.

In Spring 2014, the city and trustee H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest announced they would split the cost of renovating the boathouse, which reopened in the 2016-17 academic year. Both the men’s and women’s programs were reinstated.

In 2014, FOTR also helped start a fundraising event called Erg-A-Thon.

It is still held every December at the Bell Tower. Athletes and coaches take turns on a rowing machine from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. to collect donations.

“Being involved with this program is a huge part of me,” Rick Gross said. “We could not see this program go. It meant too much to the kids and parents to not go out without trying our best to reinstate the program.”

The program has significant meaning to the Gross family. When Goldin got married in September, she chose Boathouse Row as the location.

“It was a huge honor getting married there,” Goldin said. “I have spent so much of my time down by Boathouse Row. It felt like home to me.”

More than 10 years after graduating, Goldin still helps FOTR supply food and fundraise during regattas. She and her father stay involved because they respect the work ethic athletes display, she said.

Goldin said FOTR does a great job of creating a homey atmosphere at races, with parents preparing a variety of hot and cold foods for athletes.

Because some athletes’ parents are unable to attend races, Goldin said it’s important to have that supportive atmosphere to make every rower feel comfortable. The organization gave her a sense of home during her time at Temple, she added.

“We don’t want to leave any kid to feeling like they are lost or don’t have a place,” Goldin said. “Having a strong parent presence and being able to give the kids hospitality helps the athletes perform to their best abilities. Having that support will definitely help this program to be a high-level competitor in the rowing world very soon.”

The parents who cannot travel to Philadelphia frequently have a hard time keeping up with their children’s performances, Rick Gross added. Goldin and some parents of active rowers decided to start an online photo collection of events throughout the season.

“Some parents would not know what’s going on at all,” Rick Gross said. “Sometimes, I get calls telling me how happy they are, telling me if it wasn’t for what we do, they would be clueless.”

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