On a Mission: Insights from Executive Director Mike Knopp






February 8, 2019

Giving youth new opportunities is core to our mission

RIVERSPORT provides more than 135 scholarships every season to metro area middle and high school youth. It’s changing lives in ways you’d never imagine.

You can easily spot the physical value of rowing as a sport. It uses nine major muscles, challenging 84% of the muscles in your body. It requires cardiovascular endurance, strength, balance, flexibility and focus. So yes, it is great workout. And it’s a highly competitive sport.

But when it comes to changing young lives, the sport of rowing goes far beyond the obvious.

The power is in the possibilities. Rowing on one of RIVERSPORT’s youth teams inspires our young athletes – and sometime kids who don’t yet know they are athletes – to go for something more than they imagined possible.

Meet just a few of our junior athletes:

Ruthie Lacy was only able to row with the juniors because of a scholarship. It’s fortunate RIVERSPORT donors have been able to fund her participation, because her talent is apparent. Today, she is the fastest lightweight junior woman in the country with her 23:50 (1:59 pace) 6K erg score. (Olympic athletes clock in at 23:00 or a 1:55 pace) She is sure to get collegiate rowing scholarship offers, opening the door to educational opportunity, national and perhaps international travel, and new experiences she couldn’t have imagined just a few years ago.

Sofia Ferguson is an accomplished Latino teen, an award-winning artist who volunteers at multiple charities in her spare time – and is an exceptional athlete. Team captain for the RIVERSPORT junior crew varsity women this year, she will be rowing at the prestigious Naval Academy in the fall. Sofia earned her invitation to the Naval Academy in many ways, but rowing set her apart from the rest. It’s hard to imagine a more inspiring opportunity.

Seth Morlan is one of 11 siblings and this scholarship athlete is the third sibling to row with RIVERSPORT. Seth placed second at one of the nation’s largest regattas, the Head of the Hooch, this year in the men’s four and plans to become a firefighter.  His older brother also went through the program and currently serves on the RIVERSPORT coaching staff.

Over the past 12+ years, we estimate Oklahoma City’s junior rowers have earned more than $8M in collegiate scholarships. Many have rowed at top educational institutions across the nation – Stanford, Clemson, University of Wisconsin, University of Texas, University of Minnesota, and the University of California at Berkley. Closer to home you’ll find our juniors on rowing scholarships at OCU, OU, UCO and the University of Tulsa. And while some of the most prestigious rowing schools in the nation don’t even offer scholarships, being a rower has been a differentiator helping junior athletes get into Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Princeton and MIT.

Just last week, junior crew rower Kate O’Keefe’s signing ceremony with Clemson was featured in a great front-page story by Jenni Carlson in the Oklahoman and on newsok.com.

Congrats to Katie and all of our 2019 graduating Junior Crew; see the impressive list below. And many thanks to Jenni for highlighting their success!

Beyond education, all of our juniors have the opportunity to stretch the bounds of their local high school. Rowing in San Diego, seeing Boston at the Head of the Charles race, racing at the Head of the Hooch in North Carolina – it shows them where their dreams, their talent and their hard work can take them.

The Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation is focused on creating a sustainable model that brings Olympic sports and outdoor recreation together to make a difference in the life of our city, our youth and our families. As a 501c3 nonprofit Foundation, we rely on contributed support from across the spectrum – individuals, corporations, and grants – along with earned revenue from RIVERSPORT Adventures and athletic programs to make the model work. Every adventure or rafting pass sold at RIVERSPORT goes toward sustaining our nonprofit initiatives.

Whether you’re buying passes, rowing or paddling in one of our programs, are a valued sponsor or have made a generous donation, we appreciate your support and hope you will continue to stay involved.


Donate now You can support scholarships for youth in our rowing and paddling leagues with a donation, large or small

Join us in congratulating all of our graduating seniors including…

Averie Brenner
The Ohio State University

Jacob Calhoon
Oklahoma City University

Allie Feeley

Sofia Ferguson
US Naval Academy

Colby Magill
US Naval Academy

Katie O’Keefe
Clemson University

Riane Soash
Old Dominion University

Lexi Wilson
University of Central Florida

Congratulations to Gus Cook, member of the OKC RIVERSPORT Junior Canoe/Kayak Team & national champion, for being featured in Boys’ Life magazine! See the article here. Watch for more on our youth paddling programs in future blog posts.