But some things never change.
That will be evident on Saturday, when the Atlanta Junior Rowing Association hosts a quarter-century worth of alumni, coaches and family members to reflect on their all-too-similar years on the Chattahoochee River.
“When I first started coaching we had around 60 kids and 5 coaches, now we have close to 200 kids and 15 coaches so in terms of growth, we have nearly tripled,” said John Pearson, AJRA coach from 2000-2011 and a current member of the AJRA board of directors that was in charge of organizing their 25th Anniversary festivities. “But over all the change and growth, the coolest thing for me is to hear people describe the benefits of the club in the exact same way as we hear today.”
“They talk about gaining confidence and determination. How they learned those things here 15 or 20 years ago and it went on to shape their whole lives…those are the same things we try to teach today.”
From 9:30 until noon on Saturday at the AJRA boathouse on Azalea Drive, Pearson said he expects well over 100 attendees for the 25th anniversary celebration.
Festivities are set to include the unveiling of a new trophy case, the Christening of their newest eight-man boat that is aptly named the “Coach John Pearson,” races between alumni and current rowers down the ‘Hooch, and a timeline display featuring 25 years of photos, events, and accomplishments.
“The timeline has photos of all 21 boats to reach US Youth Nationals and is a really impressive display of the growth of the program,” said AJRA Board of Directors President Dottie Cecil, a mother of both current and past rowers. “It’s interesting to see how much our program has grown as the communities of Roswell, Alpharetta, and Milton have grown around it.”
The 25th Anniversary celebration will also coincide with two more events — the formation of an AJRA Alumni Association and the first rowing event of the 2012 Olympic Games in London
Pearson said he can only hope both will be prevalent in AJRA’s next 25 years of rowing.
“The Alumni Association will allow us to stay connected to those from our past while allowing those that have expressed interest to give back. Hopefully it allows us to continue growing our club in hopes of having one of our kids make the Olympic Games in the near future.”