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The Faces Behind Rowing BC – LESLIE MANDERS

In her own words:

I have been rowing since 2014. The Learn to Row course I took only had two participants. Therefore, I learned to row in a double right off the bat, and even rowed in a single without pontoons before completing the course! I was hooked on the sport of rowing from the moment I got in the boat. It was a sport I always wanted to try, having been inspired watching rowing in the Olympics. Two seasons after I started rowing, the 1992 women’s Olympic team, including Marnie McBean, visited the Kelowna Rowing Club and I was fortunate enough to cox a quad for them (they picked me because of my name). That was such an amazing experience for me as a new rower!

I have been on the Kelowna Rowing Club board for the past 5 seasons. It hasn’t been easy keeping our little club afloat. We lost our head coach and venue at the end of 2017; worked tremendously hard to secure a new location for the last few months of the 2018 season; had an amazing 2019 season in our new location with staff and new programming; and then COVID-19 hit. We are well-positioned to ride out the pandemic and look forward to the time ahead when we can get back to normal and rebuild our little community.

One of the things I am most attracted to within this sport is its sense of community. Traveling to other venues to participate in regattas is so much fun and I look forward to seeing friends I meet and make along the way. Competing has always made me very anxious, so I decided to become an umpire, 1) to see the competition from the other side to allay my fears as a rower by learning the rules and getting to know the people behind the flags and 2) to expand my network within the rowing community by having a reason other than racing to participate in regattas. I have been heartily welcomed into Rowing BC’s umpire crew and look forward to working with them again someday soon. When Susan Wilkinson approached me about becoming a Rowing BC board member, I was really excited by the opportunity to expand my rowing circle and to represent the sport from the BC Interior perspective. My passion for rowing, the opportunity to provide a voice for clubs from the B.C. Interior and my eagerness to contribute to a high caliber board are the reasons I am interested in being on the Rowing BC Board of Directors.

I also participate on the BC Interior Rowing Task Force, which is a great way to build and strengthen the community of rowing up here in the hinterlands. We tend to have similar issues but can learn from each other by sharing ideas and resources.

In the off-season, I enjoy hiking, cross-country skiing (skate is my preference) and snowshoeing. These activities will be a lifesaver in the upcoming COVID winter months. 

I am a couple of years away from retirement from my accounting career in healthcare and look forward to starting a new career, possibly as a rowing coach from April to October and as a cross-country skiing coach from November to March. My dog, Kiko, will enjoy driving along in the coach boat and lending her advice to the rowers. Unfortunately, she isn’t allowed on the ski trails!

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