• Home
  • /
  • a. Opinion
  • /
  • Ryan Slate: “Rowing is a sport that isn’t won by chance”

Ryan Slate: “Rowing is a sport that isn’t won by chance”

A decade ago I was fortunate enough to try rowing a single scull shortly after Recruit Term.   I dabbled in rowing before joining the military but I was always in a crew boat with other oarsmen.   The mix of power, grace, and tranquility on the water drew me back to the sport and the timing couldn’t have been better.  Rowing in a single scull helped me form an identity.   It made me realize that whatever we wish to do with ease we must first learn how to do with diligence.   Rowing also gave me an outlet that was tremendously rewarding.    A timely opportunity to row on the Cataraqui River was the beginning of a career that eventually lead me to both Canadian and World University titles for RMC and a spot on the Senior National Team.

My sole purpose for coaching the RMC Rowing program is to provide opportunities for Cadets to experience the power of sport.   Anyone who has committed to an athletic goal and experienced the “up’s” and “down’s” along the way would know what I’m talking about.   Last year, with a team of 18 Cadets, RMC Rowing pulled off a 10th place finish at the Canadian University Rowing Championship.  The men in the 8+ were elated – as was I – because at that late point in the season our team experienced an epiphany.  They believed that they could be better and wanted to get back to training!   I no longer had to persuade them to train – they got it!

Rowing is a sport that isn’t won by chance.  There is no “luck” involved in finishing at the front of the pack.   No lucky bounces, no star players that carry the team, and no way to cut corners in training.   Ideally rowers should be tall and lean with a high strength capacity and VO2 max.  But, shortcomings in one’s physique can be overcome by the finer parts of rowing, such as power application, technique, “boat feel”, blade work, psychology, etcetera.   For these reasons, I believe that RMC Cadets can be competitive with the top rowing schools in the OUA if they are willing to commit to the program.  I would be remiss to not mention the partnerships that are being created and are vitally important to the future of the rowing program.  In particular, HMCS Cataraqui in allowing our club to use their facilities and the RMC Athletic Dept. for being in-step with my visions for the program.

In closing, I feel that the promotion of rowing to competitive status will enhance the overall experience for each rower by providing higher quality training time. A good training program and effective coaching will help an athlete improve quicker, but ultimately the amount of time one can commit to training will have the largest impact on performance.  Cadets should now be able to focus soley on rowing during the competitive season, rather than juggling Intramural Sports and several other PE related activities.   Becoming a competitive club will also increase the number of competitions available to Cadets, and will aid in maintaining our equipment.   When the quality of the competitive rowing experience is raised, so is the level of enjoyment!

22323 Ryan Slate  – Royal Military College of Canada Rowing Club Coach

Issue 9 / 2005 e-Veritas article on Ryan Slate from Kingston Whig Standard


  • Jack Reid

    July 3, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Glad to hear of all your recent success!
    Please drop me an email to reconnect if you receive this message.
    Best wishes for more achievements in the future.
    #8069 Jack Reid
    False Creek, B.C.

  • Ryan Slate

    July 3, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Hello, Jack!
    Thank you for the message. It has been 10 years since you welcomed me into your home on False Creek. It was too bad that our team relocated to Victoria because I was enjoying getting to know you! I will be in touch soon through email but I need to track down your email address. Kind Regards,

  • RMC Rower

    July 3, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Fantastic description of the attraction of the sport. “The mix of power, grace, and tranquility on the water drew me…”
    I, along with the rest of the cadets on the RMC Crew, are delighted with the elevation of club status and the opportunity to raise our game to the next level.
    Thanks Ryan and Bill for the article.