Saturday, October 06, 2007

Shadowing The Head of the Ohio

The Head of the Ohio (HOTO) was this past Saturday. (Hi Jonathan) Like the other Head of . . . races, it is the capstone of the rowing season for Pittsburgh, and probably the biggest event of the year. In Pittsburgh, the main sponsoring organization seems to the be the Three Rivers Rowing Association. I was there as amateur (ham) radio support to the race organizers, and I was shadowing the volunteer coordinator. Regattas like this all have a similar structure. Most people thing of these as intercollegiate (or even high school) events, because most of us get exposed to this because of our college friends who row crew. But these are bigger. Unlike most sporting events, the Head of . . . series are a lot more then one division. There are high school, collegiate, and club teams competing (each in their own division) and they do it together.

There are lots of sports/activities that make claim to being like family. This bunch has as good a claim as any, as you see an entire cross section of ages at these. The high school and college students (like you expect), the high school parents, but you also get the adults who row who like to race. And their families (both younger generation and older generation.) the result is even the high school kids get to see a whole community of people, all taking part in the same activity at various levels. And these people have been around each other for years (especially the club rowers), so the usual high school athlete parent gets integrated with a large community that his/her child is being brought up into, a community of adults the child can respect on many levels, and all eager to be present as they mature.

So what do you see at such things? With such a cross section of people, engaging each other in a very public place, a wide range. In addition to the usual frustrations and joy of working with a wide range of people in a big event, you see generosity, selfishness, grace under pressure, people cracking under pressure, the range of motivations, courtesy, response to discourtesy, deciding what battles to fight, and which ones not to. How to influence others without using authority. How to use authority wisely (and effectively). A whole host of lessons. Both for the kids, and for the not very old (like me) to learn. And many people who are hoping we (including me) learn them, so as we take our places in the community, we are able to take their places.

This was my second event as part of Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES). And this was the classic scenario. Radio operator shadows official, provides multi-modal communications between official and others, sometimes when other modes are not operational. There were various fires (metaphoric) to be put out. Minor crisis. And one medical. Oh, and a couple older hams who could explain what they did, how they did it, and a bit of institutional knowledge that comes from doing things over years. And yes, there are a couple roles that I could be playing in that community in the years to come, if I stick around and get more training and experience. These are people who know how to look into the future.
Post a Comment