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On the water: Junior Charley Griffiths participates in crew as coxswain, learns life lessons

Griffiths+leads+a+boat+of+rowers+at+practice+one+day.+%22Rowing+is+a+time+commitment%2C+but+I+love+every+minute+of+it%2C%22+Griffiths+said.
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On the water: Junior Charley Griffiths participates in crew as coxswain, learns life lessons

Griffiths leads a boat of rowers at practice one day.

Griffiths leads a boat of rowers at practice one day. "Rowing is a time commitment, but I love every minute of it," Griffiths said.

Casey Neumann

Griffiths leads a boat of rowers at practice one day. "Rowing is a time commitment, but I love every minute of it," Griffiths said.

Casey Neumann

Casey Neumann

Griffiths leads a boat of rowers at practice one day. "Rowing is a time commitment, but I love every minute of it," Griffiths said.

By Molly Goldberg, The Archer School for Girls

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After school each day, while other Archer athletes head to the courts and the fields for hours of sports practice, junior Charley Griffiths heads to Marina del Rey.

Griffiths is a coxswain on The Marina Aquatic Center junior rowing team. Dubbed MAC, the team is a competitive club program for high school students in the Los Angeles area.

Griffiths said that her brother’s friend was the one who initially inspired her to become a coxswain.

“One of my brother’s friends was a rower. He was always at my house and he noticed that I was really loud and always bossy,” Griffiths said. “I was a leader within my own household. He thought those skills would really translate into rowing because a coxswain is someone who needs to have those skills, and he recommended that I try it.”

A coxswain is someone who steers the boat and communicates with the rowers when they are out on the water. Griffiths said coxswains are supposed to be able to maneuver the boats according to weather conditions and the other traffic on the water. The coxswain is also the “mini” coach on the boat.

“Although the coaches are following the boats, they aren’t directly with the girls and the girls can’t really hear them. The coxswain kind of runs practice and drills,” Griffiths said.

Her rowing routine consists of a team warm-up prior to getting on the water.  According to Griffiths, the warm-up is either a mile run, a dynamic warm-up, stretches or exercises with an ergometer. After that, the coaches give the rowers the lineups of who is on each boat.

“It’s a coxswain’s responsibility to get the boat and the rowers and get them down to the water,” Griffiths said.  “After that, I go get my cox-box and everything. I need to do my job and make sure that the girls have an effective practice.”

Griffiths heads to practice Mondays through Fridays from 4:15 to 6:15.

“It’s a really big time commitment,” she said. “Sometimes we even travel to San Francisco, Sacramento or other places for races against other clubs and schools on the weekends.”

Chris Griffiths, Charley’s mom, believes that rowing has allowed her to embrace her competitive side, as she utilizes it in service to her team.

“Though Charley seemed a ‘natural’ coxswain, I wasn’t sure if she really enjoyed it until after she manned a boat of eight girls in her first open water regatta,” Chris Griffiths said. “She could not hide her smile and enthusiasm describing how she built a strategy, energized her team, and pushed their boat to a podium victory.”

Though rowing takes up a lot of Charley Griffiths’ time, she said she has learned many important life lessons from rowing.

“I think [rowing] has really helped me find my voice,” Griffiths said. “It has taught me what it means to be a part of a team.”

This story was originally published on The Oracle on December 7, 2018.

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