Our Story

In 2007 the Chicago Training Center (CTC) was established with the goal of bringing the sport of competitive rowing to underserved urban youth.

The after-school program provides structured opportunities for student participants to develop their athletic and academic potential and encourages personal growth across a broad range of activities.

With support from the Lieutenant Governor of the State of Illinois, the Office of the Mayor, Representative Danny K. Davis of the 7th District, World Sport Chicago, Chicago Public Schools, the Chicago Park District, and various funders CTC has been growing steadily, expanding its geographical reach and the scope of its programming.

Rowing is not a sport with an established tradition in the neighborhoods served by CTC but it brings unique benefits to its athletes since it requires the highest levels of commitment, discipline, teamwork and the ability and desire to set and exceed performance goals.

Unique Benefits. . .

Crew challenges students to improve their overall strength and fitness while developing and refining their technique to produce measurable results on and off the water. Students are swift to respond to the combination of individual performance and teamwork that the sport requires, motivating each other in practice and competition and developing leadership skills. The demands of the sport are such that we run practices 6 days per week, including weekends, and therefore provide a clearly defined extra-curricular structure for students that might otherwise lack such opportunities.

CTC athletes compete in a schedule of year-round regattas and indoor rowing competitions in the greater Chicago area (examples include - Chicago Indoor Rowing Championships, Chicago Sprints, and Head of the Rock) as well as travelling outside the region to races in Ohio and Pittsburgh.

The Chicago Training Center brings unique benefits to its athletes.
We also host our own competition every March, the Tiro Cup, an indoor rowing competition for novices. Our increasing success in these events is a testament to our students’ commitment, builds self-esteem, and draws recruits into the program.

All-Round Development

CTC is committed to promoting the all-round development of its scholar athletes. To this end we run an after-school tutoring program with the assistance of Loyola University, which offers individualized homework assistance and hones the time-management skills of our students. Health and nutrition workshops and assessments through the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Human Performance Lab and Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition provide students with information and advice to improve their wellbeing and we direct youths to swimming training as needed.

Most importantly, each student has an individual mentor relationship with one of the volunteer coaches, a system which provides advice and emotional support. In the same vein students are encouraged to expand their college aspirations through their involvement with rowing either to gain a scholarship or boost their admission application.

Furthermore through CTC’s Athlete Advisory Committee students have contact with current and ex National Team Members to better understand the sport at the high level.

Through the commitment and generosity of board members a variety of fieldtrips to colleges and city firms form part of the CTC curriculum, showcasing potential career paths in government, consulting, law, public relations and finance.

Community Served

CTC aims to provide this extracurricular programming to at-risk youth across the city who would not otherwise have this sport opportunity and structure to realize their full athletic, academic, and personal potential.

CTC primarily serves Chicago Public School students in neighborhoods on Chicago’s South and West Sides. Although its reach is citywide, the two primary training facilities are on the South Side: indoor and winter land training takes place at the Chicago Park District’s Gage Park field house and water practices are held on the South Branch of the Chicago River at Bubbly Creek. The central location of this main training facility and its proximity to downtown Chicago broadens both our geographical reach and visibility in the city at large.

Beginning with 24 teenage participants, numbers have now more than doubled and the program now has over 60 participants between the ages of 13 and 18 on its roster. Our students have come from over 20 CPS schools.


Support for CTC across the city, and in the rowing community, is strong and becoming regularized. The organization currently receives financial support from After School Matters (ASM), Chicago’s Family and Support Services (FSS), and four family foundations. Further sponsorship for specific events such as the annual fundraising Gala or items such as equipment and clothing has come from city firms such as Bank of America and Xchanging. We hope to maintain our relationships with these organizations as sources of funding as CTC grows.

Having Their Say


I like the challenge. There's always a challenge to overcome....always a goal to reach.

Brian Bahena


I started off as a coxswain which takes a lot of responsiblility, and I was really shy at first - but after a while, I started getting used to it.

Jocelyn Duran


It goes from two all the way to eight people in a boat - and one mistake can put you in that water.

Casanova Redmone