BY ED MORAN
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY WAYLAND-WESTON
When Chris Maietta had the idea to start a high school rowing program in his home town of Wayland, Massachusetts, he called then school principal Charlie Ruopp and set up a meeting. Ruopp had done a bit of sculling in his past and was immediately receptive to the idea.
But he also knew that the size of the school enrollment could be a barrier to the growth and success of a new program. Wayland, located in the Metro West suburbs of Boston is a small, rural town, the same as its neighbor, Weston.
So, the principal picked up the phone with Maietta’s sitting in the office and called the athletic director at Weston High School and suggested that they combine their efforts and form a program that would serve the students from both schools, and so began the Wayland-Weston Rowing Association.
“The initial idea I had was just for Wayland,” Maietta said. “That’s where I live. I had a visit with the principal to see what he thought about it. Turns out he had done a little bit of sculling and was familiar with the sport, and thought it was a great idea.
“But he had the thought of calling Weston, the town next door because the two schools were really small and they sometimes struggle to do things. He felt if it were possible to combine the two schools into one program it could be a poster child for ways in which we could collaborate and share resources for the benefit of everybody.
“I was sitting in his office and he picked up the phone called the athletic director over at Weston and said I have this guy here and we’re talking about starting a rowing program, I think you should get in on this. He didn’t really know much about rowing, but so as long as we weren’t asking for money, he was all in.”
“He didn’t really know much about rowing, but so as long as we weren’t asking for money, he was all in.”– Chris Maietta
That meeting and phone call took place 20 years ago this fall. Since then the program has grown to serve an average of 100 to 110 students every fall and spring semester, and stands as an example of how a rowing program can form from a simple idea to one that has been successfully run for two decades.
The program has flourished in those 20 years, and now holds programing for between 45 and 55 middle school students from the combined schools as well as the high school program.
“I can’t believe it’s been 20 years,” Maietta said. “I started it and then very quickly a lot of people came out of the woodwork to help, and over the course of the years, there were many hands contributing. It’s just a credit to an awful lot of people who chipped in,” he said.
“I think our experience exemplifies the way in which rowing can bring together remarkable people—student-athletes, coaches, parents, alumni, friends, state and local officials—in support of a worthwhile endeavor, all under the auspices of an independent, not-for-profit educational organization completely funded by voluntary contributions.”