Waco Chat

Matt Scheuritzel

By Kevin Tankersley

Executive Director of the Waco Rowing Center

“I care about our youth program, but I also care about making Waco a mecca of rowing, which it really can be.”

We have an opportunity for Waco to really add faces to the sport of rowing, be the leader of a paradigm shift for the sport of rowing in the state. We have the best water so the opportunities are pretty limitless. The Brazos River, Lake Waco, Tradinghouse Creek Reservoir, they’re all phenomenal. You need flat water. You need distance. You need 2000-meter and 5000-meter stretches.

In the fall, when we ran our head race, a 5000-meter stretch, our starting line was right outside [McLane] Stadium. Then the finish, almost to a tee, like God designed it, at the end of Brazos Park East. That’s 5000 meters, straight rowing. You start, you row through all of downtown. It’s scenic.

We have multiple hot bodies of water here. In April, we’re doing a race out at Tradinghouse Creek Reservoir, a 2000-meter stretch. That’s the official kind of international standard for a sprint race. We are the only ones who have a 2000-meter stretch of water that can host lanes. We’re installing a 10-lane course, and we’ll have the only 10-lane course in the country.

April 22 and 23, the Texas State Championships are here at Tradinghouse. La Vega will be competing. They’re trying to get a scrimmage down in Austin, but this is gonna be really our debut. The kids are excited. We’re hoping to get about 12 to participate in this first regatta, which would be great for a year-old program.

The high schoolers that decided to give this a try are just the pioneers. And we tell them that every day. “You guys are starting this. You guys bought into this. And we’re really proud of you.” They have tremendous national support, and also local. Baylor Scott and White, as well as some of the foundations, have been really helpful, and the city as well.

A lot more kids are learning how to swim. We have a middle school group that’s learning. We’re approaching around 400 swimming lessons since we started this. Lower-school and middle-school [rowers], those are our future.

Training for the 2028 Olympics and the World Championships has started. The reality is, down in Austin, the water can get so overcrowded. The Brazos River has about 14 miles of water before you would have to spin and then turn around. Elite coaches want to do 50 kilometers in the morning. Some places, you’ll have to spin a million times to do that. But here, it’s one trip down, spin, one trip the other way. And then on top of that, for the elite crews, they can head on over to Tradinghouse and we can keep one or two lanes open and they can get sprint work in, too, which makes it unique.

I care about adding faces. I care about our youth program, but I also care about making Waco a mecca of rowing, which it really can be.