West Philadelphia rowing champ Brannon Johnson runs BLJ Group Rowing, the one Black-owned and -operated rowing membership in America. She additionally trains different Black rowers tips on how to carve out their very own areas within the predominantly white sport.
In keeping with BLJ’s web site, the membership began with an preliminary mission to make use of rowing as a automobile for change. BLJ’s precedence is to bridge the hole between the normal rowing world and the various West Philly group by eradicating boundaries, offering entry and creating alternatives throughout the elite sport.
“I positively stumbled into my mission,” Johnson instructed 6ABC, “and I really like that it’s not about me. I really like that it’s about this group.” Johnson mentioned that holding one another accountable and pushing each other to do higher and be higher is main within the area she has created.
The rowing maven has traveled the world to race and practice within the sport. “I had higher choices as a result of rowing was obtainable,” Johnson mentioned. It afforded her the chance to fulfill many various sorts of individuals. “I didn’t see anybody that regarded like me across the sport, so … it’s essential to me that I give that choice to as many individuals as … doable within the Black and brown communities.”
Considered one of Johnson’s college students attested to the coach’s skill to assist with total confidence on and out of the water.
“It’s positively been good having anyone to look as much as and anyone that holds me accountable,” highschool rower Kaiya Johnson mentioned.
Rowing coaches Asiyah Harrison and Jaden Oates have each noticed the dearth of Black presence within the sport. Harrison praised Johnson for her excellent contributions and for exhibiting her what it’s wish to be an entrepreneur and “a Black girl in such a white male-centered area.” Oates mentioned his highschool rowing crew, which is predominately Black and Hispanic, embraces different rowing groups of coloration every time they cross paths.
“It’s not that many people,” he mentioned.
BLJ Group Rowing gives grownup and youth applications. Church buildings, faculties, firms, and organizations are welcome to take part within the company program, the place workers can find out about and apply camaraderie, teamwork, well being and wellness.
BLJ is positioned at 2200 Kelly Drive in Philadelphia, in entrance of St. Joseph College’s boathouse alongside Kelly Drive.