Dare to Be is a documentary film not only on the sport of rowing, but also the human spirit. It follows a series of rowers ranging from novice girls to women training for the Olympics, as they overcome obstacles and seek greatness. We learn along their journey that greatness can come in many forms and should not always be measured by traditional concepts of success, but rather by individual triumphs. It essentially suggests that athletes can define what success looks like to them – not coming in last place, beating a rival, medaling for the first time, qualifying for nationals, or winning an Olympic gold medal.
The inspiration for this movie came to me along the shores of riverbanks. As the father of a youth rower, while I stood cheering on my daughter in her new sport, I began to witness first hand the powerful change in her that ensued upon joining a crew team. I watched the positive, but hidden character of my middle school child, emerge and transform her into a young woman of visible mental and physical strength, with a defined passion and model leadership skills. Once privy to the capacity of transformation, I began to notice similar changes in her peers and teammates. The unique qualities of a youth rower provided a visible example of the power and influential characteristics of this sport. While I began video taping as a proud father, I soon realized that I had a much larger story that needed to be shared. The result is the last three years of rowing coverage that I have been fortunate enough to cover and the foundation on which Dare to Be has grown. I look greatly forward to finishing the journey and story that I have been inspired to tell.
Dare to Be, weaves together three distinct stories, as characters grow and move through their development from High School to Collegiate and for some even into Elite Rowing.
The audience will first be educated to the fundamentals of rowing, as it follows a group of high school girls who are drawn to the sport for various reasons as middle schoolers. The film follows these young women from their early days in “Learn to Row,” through their growth and development into intense high school rowing. Audience members experience the power of the girls, who while discovering the sport also discover themselves. The film also explores the question of when it is that an individual makes a leap to believe in oneself as someone special. Throughout the film, the meaning of success and the factors surrounding its definition will be a prevalent theme. The stories of the high school rowers will also navigate the choppy waters of college recruiting.
The second story, Collegiate Rowing, will follow the tradition and ground breaking accomplishments of women’s college rowing. This will be accomplished at a personal and institutional level, as we follow specific athletes on their college journey. Some of these athletes are ones we met in the High School narratives, and they serve as a connecting line of the film, tying the different sections together.
The third story, Elite Rowing, will follow 2012 Olympic Team Members Sara Hendershot and Sarah Zelenka, on their journey to make it back to the 2016 Olympics in Rio. It will also feature other Olympians, such as Erin Cafaro Taylor Ritzel, Mary Whipple and Sarah Trowbridge, as they share their own stories.