Waikato Wahine in Rowing part one - Aleisha Haworth, Waikato Rowing Club

As part of our acknowledgement of local wahine, women in our rowing clubs, we would like to introduce you to Aleisha Haworth.  She is an athlete and club captain of Waikato Rowing Club.

As club captain she is enjoying integrating with the athlete community and other club members.  She finds a lot of the role is about connections and linking with the people.  She has found being on the committee has helped her to see the club from internal and external perspectives and has learnt a lot about the running of the club, and the passion many people have for the club and the sport of rowing. 

Being nominated as the club captain has been her proudest rowing moment and a highlight of her time at WRC.  It came as a surprise because she still felt ‘new’ to the club, even after a few years.  Her knowledge of rowing at the time was still developing so wasn’t sure what she could bring to the role.  She has enjoyed leading the athlete committee.  It has been a great opportunity to offer leadership opportunities to other athletes.  They have been able to share the load, and get their input on how to develop the club culture and training environment and squad communication. 

photo credit to Art of Rowing

Her introduction to rowing is like many.  She knew about it while at school, but she didn’t get into rowing until she was at Uni because of other sporting commitments.  Linda Bond is credited with encouraging her to come along and check out WRC.  At 22 she was a fresh novice.  She found the club inviting and friendly, and many of those like-mind people she met are now her closest friends.

She has found that rowing has influenced her life beyond what she does in the club and on the water.   Having come from gymnastics she was familiar with the work ethic and discipline that rowing required.  However this has also translated into her work at the hospital and while in private practice.  The fast-paced setting of the acute ward requires prioritisation and effective time management.  These are also required to be successful in rowing. The accumulated effect of training means you have to prioritise nutrition, mental health and family, over the fun-stuff at times.  Not an easy thing to do but it is a must if you are going to show up and lead others

We asked Aleisha what advice or tips she would share with other women out there considering rowing and being more involved in their club? 

There is that perception rowing is a boy’s sport.  Believe it or not up until 1997 WRC was a boys only club.  Since then, there have been many changes so that now where WRC and rowing participation in NZ generally is a near 50/50 split.  The success in the elite women’s program shows that women can be strong athletes too but this is not always easy to achieve in todays society and the demands of women.  Rowing can help you to have a holistic balance – socially, physically and mentally. 

For those women who are stepping up into roles in their clubs, I ask that you assist to create pathways for others showing an interest and offering opportunities, as well as an athlete voice at the table.

So, what is in store for Aleisha’s future and where will her rowing experience take her?  She has her eyes on going further into the rowing scene and developing young leaders at the club to share their voice.  She would also like to encourage more inclusive and flexible training environment that caters for those with different work hours.   While it has been tiring, she has been fortunate to have the support and encouragement to continue training and working full time.  She has taken her learnings from WRC into her gymnastics coaching roles and as a hand therapist.  She learnt to take more time to listen to athlete’s goals and aspirations and then support the athlete to realise these goals and get to that place where the magic happens.