Op-Ed: Chicago Training Center Brings Rowing to Chicago’s Kids

Op-Ed: Chicago Training Center Brings Rowing to Chicago's Kids

Dear Susan,

My name is Carolyn Glastris and I am an avid follower of your MIB platform and vocal advocate for outreach initiatives that aim to bring opportunities to communities. One of my favorite pastimes — when I have free time — is to involve myself as a coxswain for the New Trier Master’s Women and a small team of elite master “has-been” rowers. The pull of rowing caught me late in life — unlike many of those I direct on the water now — but I am now keenly aware of the benefits of rowing participation. Through this involvement I came to know Mr. Montana Butsch — who, 10 years ago — founded the outreach organization Chicago Training Center (CTC) to bring the sport of rowing to the kids in the south and west side of the city.

I’d like to highlight the work they do as CTC’s reach, impact and engagement from the myriad parties has created a truly great emerging nonprofit. The fact that Montana grew up as an urban kid, was recruited to the University of Pennsylvania, rowed for Oxford and trialed for both the British and American National Teams obscures the fact that he is not alone and that many former high-level rowers have joined with him to leverage this organization.

The work of CTC has been featured in CBS Nightly News, The New York Times and numerous local publicaions. They have organized staked events on the rowing calendar for engagement with the wider rowing community (tirocup.org and toughcup.org). They have a professionally managed board of directors, and have recently partnered with the Pocock Rowing Foundation (of Boys and the Boat fame) to bring indoor rowing to CPS schools. All of this AND they are going to soon become an anchor tenant of the fourth and final City Boathouse in Bridgeport (move-in is imminent).

As a gloss overview, last year’s class met the following markers in various metrics:

  • 86 percent improved physical fitness
  • 77 percent reported better understanding of good nutrition
  • 76 percent reported making healthier choices
  • 81 percent improved self-confidence, goal setting and persistence
  • 58 percent are Latino
  • 11 percent are African American
  • 27 percent are white, 4 percent other
  • 55 percent are low- or extremely low-income
  • 23 percent have at least one parent who did not complete high school
  • 58 percent have two parents without any post-secondary education
  • 50 percent of our athletes live in households whose primary language is not English.

I feel that with the opening of the new rowing facility on the South Side married with the ability for this agency to truly engage influential members of the community, this organization can easily become a trend-setting, highly dynamic outlet for young people. I hope that through this note we can engage even more members of the MIB community to get involved and support of agencies like these.

Learn more about the Chicago Training Center and how you can get involved here.