Ready to row: Coach starts Lake Las Vegas Rowing Club to attract competition to desert

In the middle of Lake Las Vegas, Jim Andersen pulls his motorized boat up to a group and begins giving instructions: “Long, steady strokes,” he says. “Much better folks. Much better.”

Though the group is a mixture of ages and backgrounds, they have all come together with a common desire: To learn how to row.

With the help of the Lake Las Vegas Master Association, Andersen started the Lake Las Vegas Rowing Club to form a competitive team. But his larger goal is to get kids involved in the sport. The club has a Junior Rowers team for ages 13 to 19 and an Adult Novice Co-ed team.

“I’ve been coaching for 35 years,” Andersen said. “This sport opens up incredible opportunity for kids.”

On a recent Saturday morning, one group started off learning a little about rowing technique while on a boat in the dock. Then some of the more advanced participants took the boat out on the lake to continue practicing.

Andersen was beside them the entire time, giving advice and helping fine-tune their techniques.

Though the club started in September, Andersen thinks he can get more people involved. Having coached multiple national championship teams, he said his entire life was impacted by the sport, and he hopes to share his passion with others.

After convincing his mother to send him to a private high school in Canada, Andersen was drafted to become a coxswain — the team member who sits in the stern and is responsible for steering the boat. He went on to compete throughout high school.

Rowing doesn’t just come with athletic opportunity, he said, but also scholarships. It helped him attend the University of California, Berkeley, where he was a coxswain for the college team.

After graduating, it was time for Andersen to forego his stern seat for an opportunity to coach. He instructed students at a variety of schools, including the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Eventually, he became a high school coach. A few years ago, he moved to Oklahoma to bring rowing to the state.

“It started as a very small program,” he said. “There were about 150 kids when I left.”

That team also had accumulated national titles.

Learning that Las Vegas didn’t have a team, Andersen considered moving to the area to do the same thing he did in Oklahoma.

“I found (Lake Las Vegas) and fell in love with it,” he said.

He is currently talking to Nevada State College about starting a team there. However, he said he really wants to focus on high school students.

“There is just a lot of potential for them,” he said, adding that he also thinks there are a lot of untapped rowing scholarships, especially for girls.

Though he isn’t new to the sport, it’s been years since Henderson resident and rowing club board member Matt McKnight has had a chance to row.

He also went to school in Berkeley and has competed against Andersen.

“I didn’t have the grades to get in,” he said of the school. “I was able to go because of rowing.”

After college, he started a career and had a family, which he said left no time for the sport. Now that Andersen has created the club, McKnight has had a chance to reconnect.

Beyond reconnecting, McKnight also is excited for Andersen’s vision to make rowing accessible to high schoolers.

“I’m living proof for what this can do,” he added.

Long term, he hopes to start organizing competitive races at Lake Las Vegas and draw national teams to compete.

“We are trying to set one up for March,” Andersen added.

Andersen said he will never forget the lifelong lessons he learned from rowing.

“You just learn a lot about discipline from doing it,” he said.

Junior Rowers may come to Lake Las Vegas at 4 p.m. Tuesdays to learn how to row while getting two free weeks to try out the competitive program. The club’s Adult Novice Co-ed team meets at 6 p.m. Mondays and is accepting members.

To sign up, visit

To reach Henderson View reporter Michael Lyle, email or call 702-387-5201. Find him on Twitter: @mjlyle.

Underground home was built as Cold War-era hideaway
The underground house at 3970 Spencer Street is one of the valley’s most unusual homes built 26 feet underground in 1978 by Girard “Jerry” B. Henderson, who, planned to survive the end of the world there.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Bump stock manufacturers under fire
The Justice Department said last month that it had started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that federal law defines bump stocks as machine guns.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Longtime Las Vegas attorney John Momot dies at age 74
Criminal defense attorney John Momot, who represented mob figures and even played himself in the movie “Casino,” has died.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
Sir Richard Branson announces purchase of Hard Rock Hotel
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, has acquired the Hard Rock Hotel with partners and plans to turn it into a Virgin-branded property by the end of 2019.
3 Centennial High School students killed in Calif. crash (Full)
Three Centennial High School students were killed Thursday morning in Southern California when their vehicle was struck by a suspected drunken driver while they were enjoying their spring break, according to a family member of one of the victims.
Retail Restroom Sexual Assault Suspect
Las Vegas police are asking for help finding a man they said groped a woman in a south Las Vegas Valley restroom. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like