Dare to Be.
By USRowing Staff • March 8, 2017
Rowing changes us. It reaches into our souls and brings out the better person – on and off the water. Adam Reist, the creator of the upcoming documentary Dare to Be, was so inspired by the transformation that his daughter took when she first picked up an oar that he decided to document the story of women just like her.
The documentary follows a series of rowers ranging from novice girls to women training for the Olympics, as they overcome
obstacles and seek greatness. We learn along with their journey that greatness can come in many forms and should not always be measured by traditional concepts of success, but rather by individual triumphs.
Rowing has served as a symbol for women’s equality in sport for many years, from the Yale bathroom strike in the 70’s to the U.S. women’s eight unprecedented third straight Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Let’s join together today to celebrate all the women in rowing who have made our sport such a success in the U.S. and let’s encourage the next generation of rowers to continue the tradition. Participate in the 2017 International Women’s Day by celebrating the great, rowing women in our lives by celebrating their journeys.
Q: Where did your inspiration for the documentary come from?
The inspiration for this movie came to me along the riverbanks. As the father of a young rower, while I stood cheering on my daughter in her new sport, I began to witness first hand the powerful change in her that ensued upon joining a crew team. I watched the positive, but a hidden character of my middle school child, emerge and transform her into a young woman of visible mental and physical strength, with a defined passion and model leadership skills. Once privy to the capacity of transformation, I began to notice similar changes in her peers and teammates. The unique qualities of a youth rower provided a visible example of the power and important characteristics of this sport. While I began videotaping as a proud father, I soon realized that I had a much larger story that needed to be shared. The result is the last four years of rowing coverage that I have been fortunate enough to cover, and the foundation on which Dare to Be has grown. I look greatly forward to finishing the journey and story that I have been inspired to tell.
Q: Dare to Be is three stories in one – what is the one common theme you see in each of those journeys?
I think one of the coolest things about rowing is you get out of it what you put in. There is no faking it in the sport. To be successful, you have to be a certain type of person that is willing to put in the work every day. Set long-term goals and methodically train to try to achieve them. I think one of my biggest surprises was how similar the mentality of all rowers are. From high school to elite you have to have that focus and sacrifice to be successful. I think there are a lot of life lessons in the sport of rowing.
Q: Today is World International Women’s day – what is something you learned about female athletes and their drive that you didn’t know before you started this project?
I love how the opportunities and image of woman have changed. I was blown away to hear stories from women I interviewed about how they had to hide that they were working out because it was “unladylike” or not sexy. The fact that they were called all sorts of derogatory names because they were athletes and they were denied opportunities to train and compete because they were women. Today I’m so happy as a father of two girls, that my daughters have so much more possibilities in sport and all of life, because of the trailblazing women that came before them. I love that today an athletically fit, intellectually smart women is considered stunning. I also think it is important that the girls of today recognize and appreciate the efforts of the women that came before them.