PCRA is Family by Justin O'Beirne

PCRA. The four letters that have changed my life. These four letters have taught me many lessons, gave me a second home, a second family, and a place to be pushed to levels higher than I had ever thought were possible. Within a week of joining PCRA, Glen Island was transformed from a park I never went to, to a place where I could come to work; a place where I met new people and then separate into different boats; a place I came to have fun; a place where I learned to respect the rules; a place where I learned that I needed to try my hardest to be in the best boat possible. Above all, a place I learned that I needed to try hard so that my boat could be the best possible for my teammates.


I started rowing in the fall of 2016, my freshman year of high school. Since starting less than two years ago, I have had three head coaches, two rowing directors, and two winter training locations. Even with all of these changes, PCRA has never felt more like a family. PCRA has shown me how hard work can truly get you anywhere. I started my rowing career in the second novice eight, and was able to work my way to the first varsity eight only a year later. Coach Jackson McCarron taught me the foundations of rowing, and helped me fall in love with the sport. He fostered an environment at PCRA that did not just make us a team, but a family. In the summer of 2017, Coach Trish Patterson taught me and a friend, a friend that I have known for ten years, Josh Timmermans, to never give up. Before we left for our first race together at the Independence Day Regatta, Coach Trish told us that no matter what happens in the race, no matter how many people we pass or get passed by, we need to cross the finish line trying our hardest. During that race, one of the wheels in our boat broke, and we had to finish the race rowing without using our legs.  When we got off the water we were extremely upset, and Coach Trish and Coach Jake Marshall told us that this should be used as a learning experience. When we saw the results, we found out that we came in 22 out of 24 boats, and we could not have been happier that we did not stop rowing, and that we continued to push even when we thought our arms would fall off because we defied the odds and did not come in last even with this unfortunate event. Later that year, Coach Reid Johnson joined the PCRA team, and with less than two months on this team, he put together an eight with three sophomores that came close to qualifying at the Head of the Charles Regatta, and later placed 18 out of 67 boats at the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta. Coach Reid took on a challenge to try to make PCRA a winning team, and worked hard to get us there. We tried to mirror this effort at every practice. Without Coach Reid, this boat would have never worked as hard as we needed to in order to get the results that we did. He pushed us until we couldn’t be pushed anymore, and then made us row for another hour.  

Through all of these experiences, rowing has taught me many things. Rowing has taught me to never give up, to always try your hardest, and to work together as a team. Rowing has taught me to push myself harder than I ever thought was possible, not for myself, but for my team. Whether we’re together at the boathouse, in the erg room, or even three hours away at a regatta, PCRA is a place where I learned that the people on your team could be more than just teammates.

Justin O’Beirne, PCRA Class of 2020


MaryAnn Provenzano