Paul Meredith's daughter had found pride and happiness as a member of the high school rowing team he coached. That's why when he discovered last spring that outboard motors had been stolen off of their launches putting the entire future of the club sport in jeopardy, he was extremely disheartened.
"It was a crushing blow," says Meredith, coach of Virginia's Lake Braddock High rowers, about the $8,000 worth of equipment taken off the boats coaches use to follow the rowers to ensure safety. "We were two weeks from the finals when it happened. My tongue was in the dirt," he says.
Meredith was not only concerned about finishing the season; he was worried that the act of thievery would be tough to ever overcome for the squad, which is funded entirely by families. Then people began rallying around the team. First a few of the team member's mothers notified the local paper about the theft. After learning of the situation, a local dealer provided the team with a loaner motor, which allowed them to salvage the season. But practices were disjointed and morale was dampened.
After the season wrapped up, the focus immediately shifted to the following year. Leslie Meredith was on her way to being a senior and had hopes of finishing her high school rowing career with a bang. But the team was, as her Dad Paul put it, "Left high and dry."
Enter Jennifer Pharris, Asst. Advertising & Marketing Manager of Nissan Marine and Power Products. "When I saw the story I was shocked that someone would steal something from kids," she said. "Then I thought maybe there was something we could do." Pharris who is based far away in Carrollton, TX but nonetheless touched by the tale, arranged for Nissan Marine to donate two of its 4-stroke 9.9 HP engines for the coaches boats. "It was a great opportunity to help kids."
The Merediths and the rest of the team couldn't be more grateful. "This is incredible and amazing. Now we are looking forward to another year with the best support equipment we've ever had," says Paul.
Meanwhile, Pharris looks forward to updates on the team's progress. "I hope they have a great season," she says. Paul and Leslie will make sure they do.