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The Faces Behind Rowing BC – SONJA LONNE

In her own words:

I started rowing as a teenager when I signed up for a rowing summer camp offered at a local club. I really had no idea what to expect, but ended up having a fantastic week rowing a double all around the Burrard Inlet with not too much oversight from the coach, and lots of time for heart to heart chats with my doubles partner. This led to continuing rowing as a Junior, and then on into rowing at university. Along the way, opportunities arose to get involved in coaching and I eagerly got trained and mentored into coaching just about every level of athlete from learn to row to competitive, from Juniors to Masters, and with a special interest for Para. 

Before joining the team at Rowing BC, I had spent the previous years in various coaching roles including as Head Coach at the Inlet Rowing Club, Head Coach at what was then called Thunderbird Rowing at the John M.S. Lecky UBC Boathouse, and Head Coach of Para Programs at the Vancouver Rowing Club. I love coaching and the connections that it leads to, and completed a M.Kin in Coaching Science to further support my pursuit of coaching as a career. 

In my first year with Rowing BC, I was also still a full-time coach! But that was a bit of a crazy workload, so I made the switch to focusing just on Rowing BC and temporarily leaving coaching with the exception of facilitating RCA Learn to Row and Para Coach Workshops and evaluations across the Lower Mainland when needed. Now instead of connecting daily with athletes, I get to connect daily with the coaches, umpires, administrators and Board members that support those athletes, and this is very valuable and meaningful work. 

Two of the projects I am most proud of are how professionally Rowing BC was able to transform the hosting of the 2016-2019 RCA National Rowing Championships at Burnaby Lake, and how smoothly Rowing BC hosted our in-person conference in 2018 and the value that experience was able to provide for the province-wide rowing community. These were two big, pinnacle events that are forward-facing into the rowing community, but really there is work behind the scenes every day that I am proud to be part of – work that helps to solve problems or make the experience better at a given organization in our community, and that impact gets passed on to all the people who are then able to enjoy our great sport and the connections that come with it. 

Outside of rowing, I am currently navigating how to bring up a toddler during a pandemic! Our family loves hiking and biking, skiing and snowshoeing. Although right now, the go-to activity to fulfill everyone’s needs is a walk/coffee/playground combo 🙂

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