ANDY COOKE ~ Westerville Crew
How did you come to get involved with the Hooch?
My son and daughter row for Westerville Crew in Columbus, Ohio. My wife and I attended the Hooch for the first time in 2013, and I was hooked. Downtown Chattanooga was bustling with inviting bars and restaurants, the River was open and accessible, and the atmosphere was perfect for a regatta. It didn’t hurt that it was 70 degrees and sunny. The Hooch venue allowed us to watch crews launch, finish, and recover from a central location. Roaming downtown Chattanooga was a blast when we were not watching the rowing.
What inspired you to become a Hooch Volunteer?
It was obvious the Hooch was a big deal and well run. I was impressed and wanted to be involved. I know it takes many volunteer hours to host a regatta, especially one as large as the Hooch, and I assumed it was staffed by strong-arming parents of the local organizing committees. Living 500 miles away it never occurred to me I could volunteer. In the fall of 2014, when I was planning our trip to Chattanooga, I was on the Hooch’s website and stumbled upon a link for volunteers to sign up. To my surprise, the Hooch’s website allowed me to choose a position, select a time, and sign up. It could not have been easier. Most of the available positions were for 3-hour shifts, and you could sign up for a variety of assignments on different days and timeframes.
Attending a regatta with my children generally requires an early morning and a late afternoon. I love the people and the atmosphere, but it is a long day. Volunteering allows me to break up the day and cut back on my recreational eating and drinking, and the temptation to nag my children. Volunteering also provides me inside access to the regatta that I don’t get as a spectator. I am a former rower, a licensed USRowing Assistant Referee and a self-diagnosed launch driving junkie. Watching racing from the water really gives one a feel for how hard the athletes are working.
In your opinion, what are the Hooch’s best qualities?
The Hooch’s best qualities are the people and the location. From the outset, my experience with the Hooch was positive. As a first year spectator, I observed a huge regatta that was well organized and provided a great opportunity for rowers to compete and socialize. As soon as I signed-up to volunteer, I was welcomed, informed of expectations, and updated regularly. I was treated like part of a local organizing committee even though I was an outsider from 500 miles away. Volunteering has also given me the opportunity to meet fun and interesting people I would not have met otherwise. I can’t say enough…about the Head of the Hooch in Chattanooga.
(Photograhy: Focus614 Photography)