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Towne Salute: Chloe Tong of Eastern Shore Community Rowers

Jul 17, 2017 02:27PM ● By Cate Reynolds
By Nicole Gould

Passion, dedication, selflessness, and enthusiasm. Combine these qualities and you’ve got Chloe Tong. At 24-years-old, Tong positively juggles multiple identities as a President, coach, director, student, and grounds crew member. To put it simply, she does it all.

Tong’s passion for rowing developed in high school after she joined the Freedom Rowers, a local non-profit for youth on the Eastern Shore. After graduating high school, Tong went off to college without rowing until she moved to Australia for a year, where she began rowing again as a way to meet people. Returning to the states in 2016, Tong was looking for a place where she could row with other adults.

With the support from her community, Tong developed the Eastern Shore Community Rowers (ESCR), a non-profit program for adult rowing. Within eight weeks, they had a board, wrote 13 pages of bylaws, safety guidelines, and recruited enough rowers for dues to allow them to purchase three used rowing shells. 

“I knew there wasn’t an adult program here, so we started one,” Tong says. “I started it with a lot of help from everyone involved. We started our own group and grew off the ground in under two months.”

As both the President and head coach, Tong certainly has her hands full. She rows six days a week at 5:45 a.m. and twice on Saturdays with a spectacular waterfront view at Evergreen in Easton. As the head coach, Tong creates the lineups for the next day’s rowing session, keeping track of everyone’s schedule. When she’s out on the water, she takes the time to break down the sport for people who have never stepped foot in a boat and helps further technique for returning rowers.

As the President, Tong handles the Board of Directors where they make decisions on what boats are needed and how they can attract more rowers to join the organization.

“I love the fact that it gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning without any excuses,” Tong explains. “I’m not an easy waker-upper, and I love being active, but I need a force to be active and with these people counting on me to be there, I can’t just hit the snooze button and go back to sleep. And obviously being on the water is phenomenal that time of day.”

Once she’s completed her duties with the ESCR, Tong heads over to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum where she works with the buildings and grounds department 40 hours a week upkeeping the property.

“I really like working with buildings and grounds,” Tong admits. “I do all the jobs that no one else wants to do. I paint things, sand things, clean out closets, drive a forklift, and anything else to take care of the buildings.”

In the evening, Tong throws on a leotard and transforms into a dancer at the Mid Shore Dance Academy where she trains three to four days a week and teaches on another. Continuing her trend of starting non-profits, Tong was approached by another dancer and before you know it, Continuum Dance came to life. With an extensive background and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance from Randolph College, it was only right that Tong become the Artistic Director.

While attending to all these careers, Tong also spends her time as a student at Horizon Helicopters in Delaware where she is working towards achieving her private pilot’s license and hopes to eventually go commercial.

“When I was in Australia, I decided that it was time to learn something new,” Tong says. “I always wanted to be a pilot. I went on a trial flight in a helicopter, fell in love, and that was the end of that.”

The Eastern Shore Community Rowers offer a Learn-to-Row Clinic on the first Saturday of each month now through December.

“I’m just astonished and so blown back by the community that has evolved from the club,” Tong admits. “The fact that other people are willing to help me do something that I love and it’s amazing the community that has evolved from that. Stepping back and looking at the boats we have makes me realize everything we’ve done and it’s really awesome.”

For more information on the Eastern Shore Community Rowers visit Escrowers.org.

Do you have a volunteer to nominate? Email Nicole Gould at Ngould@WhatsUpMag.com