OKLAHOMA CITY (May 16, 2022) – Nearly 500 Oklahoma City youth had the opportunity to hear from award-winning Black author and rower Arshay Cooper during his visit to Oklahoma City for “OpportUnity Day at the Oklahoma River.”  Originally from the West Side of Chicago, Cooper was part of the country’s first all-Black high school rowing team, an experience that changed his life. His award-winning memoir, “A Most Beautiful Thing,” was adapted into a film named one of the best of 2020 by Esquire Magazine. 

RIVERSPORT and Cooper are partnering to engage Black youth in the opportunities provided by rowing.  

Students from Millwood, F.D. Moon, and Crooked Oak heard from Cooper during the rally and learned about rowing and paddlesports, then tried RIVERSPORT’s adventure activities. The Thunder Drum line kicked off the Opportunity Day rally and City Councilwoman Nikki Nice and Shawntay Alexander from the OKC Black Alumni Coalition participated in the festivities with Cooper. Hip hop artist Jabee and “Next Olympic Hopeful” athlete LaDarren Landrum were also on hand to talk with kids about their experiences, and free pizza from Eastside Pizza was provided by RIVERSPORT. 

Every student who attended the event now has the opportunity to attend a free summer camp at RIVERSPORT.

Schools that participated in the event are also invited to start a RIVERSPORT Youth Rowing League team. RIVERSPORT provides the equipment and coaching staff, and the teams are free for Title I schools. To learn more about the rowing opportunities at RIVERSPORT or to form a team, contact Youth Rowing League Head Coach Gena Terrill, 405-552-4040, ext. 4219, or email info@riversportokc.org