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First Row


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What We Do
First Row is Pittsburgh’s only 100% grant and private donation funded rowing program; open to all of Pittsburgh’s high school aged female youth who attend a Pittsburgh Public School.

The mission of First Row is to engage Pittsburgh’s diverse high school aged females in a program that presents all of rowing’s most positive characteristics; cultivating self-discipline, team-building, and improved health while providing an opportunity that many of our team members would otherwise not have.

Our Values
The First Row program is built on a strong foundation of values.  These values include:

  • Respect Everyone
  • Appreciating Effort
  • Friendly In-team Competition
  • Members are STUDENT-athletes 24/7
  • Put the Team Before the Individual
  • Choose to be Positive
  • Members Create an Inclusive Atmosphere
  • Smile and Have Fun!


The Season
First Row is a three season program, with practices on Monday through Thursday directly following the school day throughout the traditional academic year.  Practices start in early September and run through early June, following the academic schedule for days off, snow days, etc.  Exercise includes, but is not limited to: on water (technical or race prep), on land (rowing machines) for fitness and/or technique, technique taught in indoor rowing tanks, weight training, core work, and stretching training.  Practices are held indoors throughout the winter, and outdoors as weather permits in the fall and spring. The season also includes swim lessons and a swimming test to all in incoming athletes.

As a program of Three Rivers Rowing Association, the team has access to the both the Washington’s Landing and Millvale training facilities as well as to the hulls and support equipment for training and racing through TRRA.  The First Row program is also supported to two major races in the fall, two indoor races during the winter, and up to five local and regional races in the spring.

Coaching Staff

Director of Outreach: Samantha Finigan

Assistant Coach: Chris Garver

Community Resource Coordinator: Judy Wood

If interested in joining the team as a rower or a volunteer email us and let us know you’re interested!


Who Can Join
First Row is open to all 8th through 12th grade girls in the Pittsburgh Public or Charter School System.  Currently the team is providing transportation to and from Environmental Charter School, CAPA, City High, and Schiller with alternative transportation being examined as the team grows.  Bus passes are also provided on a case-by-case basis for transportation beyond the current provisions.

Currently the team is made up of athletes from Environmental Charter Schoool, Schiller, CAPA, City High, Obama, Imani, and Brashear, with efforts to expand to others in our local community.

Every girl must maintain her membership by attending practices regularly and demonstrating her dedication to the team at practices and races.  The team and coaches focus on helping a person succeed; so while we do require a team commitment, we recognize that this may mirror the requirements for other teams.  The program, and all associated costs are completely grant and community funded, so we do ask that the athletes volunteer/give back when they can.

Graduates from First Row are encouraged to continue their involvement with the team through assisting with practices if they live or attend college locally. We encourage  and assist all of our graduates to attend further education that is the best fit for them.  While this may not always mean rowing while in college, First Row benefits from previous alum coming back and discussing a myriad of topics with the current team from year to year.

How We Are Funded
First Row is a rowing program founded in 2009 for girls attending Pittsburgh Public & Charter Schools. The TRRA Community is able to offer the program and all associated fees at no cost to the participants thanks to our funders which include both community partners and private donors like YOU!  Some of our current charitable supporters are:

The Richard King Mellon Foundation
Grable Foundation
Highmark BCBS
PNC Charitable Trusts
Dollar Bank