With the summer season drawing to a close, outdoor enthusiasts around Clark County are looking to chase the sun and have one last adventure before the autumn rains set in. Vancouver locals are particularly in luck as they needn’t look far for the perfect patch of water for summer’s final hurrah.
Vancouver Lake is home to wide array of outdoor recreation and seasonal activities, one of which being the fast-growing Vancouver Lake Rowing Club, based at 8612 N.W. Erwin O Rieger Memorial Highway and led by head coach, Conor Bullis.
A nearly lifelong fan of rowing, participating on his high school and college teams, Bullis started coaching the sport during his summer breaks at Oregon State University. He would later go on to coach several teams across the Seattle area, and worked as assistant rowing coach for the University of Washington for several years.
After relocating to Vancouver with his wife, Bullis took a hiatus from the sport in 2016 to focus on raising his family. However, he couldn’t resist the siren call of the water for long, as in 2021, Vancouver Lake Rowing Club reached out to invite him on as its new head coach.
“I have always enjoyed the pursuit of a championship medal and record boat speeds. Nothing is different at Vancouver Lake Rowing Club, the pursuit of our potential has my enthusiasm piqued,” Bullis said. “I believe in my heart that when our community adds to the program individually, the collective grows and creates opportunities that didn’t exist before.”
The decision to join the team at Vancouver Lake Rowing Club couldn’t have been better, as the club saw an unprecedented level of success this summer. Initially only expecting a turnout of about 100 rowers, Bullis and his teammates were overjoyed to welcome a whopping 280 new athletes to their ranks over the course of the season.
As head coach, Bullis works with these new recruits as part of Vancouver Lake Rowing Club’s junior rowing team for athletes ages 7 to 19. While summer brought in a new wave of rowers, the fun won’t end when the autumn leaves start to fall as teams get to practice all year round.
With the world continuing to open after COVID-19 disruptions, Bullis is excited to share the sport he loves with new generations of athletes.
“When I’m on the water, my mind is clear and solely focused on the boats I am coaching. When the rowers improve and smile, I feel that I’m doing my job,” Bullis said. “As a coach, I get to share what I love and help others find their own passion for the sport. Watching the joy of young rowers is rewarding many times over, and I hope more people get to experience it with me.”
With a passionate team of coaches and a dedicated team of young rowers, the future looks bright for the Vancouver Lake Rowing club as it continues to grow and raise awareness for the lake they call home.
“Vancouver Lake has so much to offer but is almost unknown to the community. We’ve got plenty of work ahead of us to increase awareness of the lake and all of the wonderful activities our community can enjoy at the lake,” Bullis said. “From bird watching to watersports and grand rowing races that bring athletes from all over the Northwest to our lake. We are so lucky to row on Vancouver Lake and I hope we can spread that to more families in the future.”