It’s Never Too Late

Head of the Charles


Rowing Club“It’s never too late.” Trite phrase, I know. But I met someone recently who personifies this. Kelley Kassa (front row center) is a petite woman who aspired to be an athlete, but believed she could not pursue sports because of her stature. So, she did the next best thing: learned to play marching band instruments and participated in athletic events as a member of the band.

Fast-forward a decade or two. She joins Community Rowing ( Keep in mind that ideal rowers are long and lean. After 16 years of rowing on and off (the off years due mostly to the economy and work situations) she is invited to join a shell from Quinsigamond Rowing in the Head of the Charles Regatta. The shell is short (pun intended) a few rowers. Kelley says asking if a rower wants to crew the Head of the Charles is like asking a football player, “Would you like to play in the Super Bowl?”

Yes, she says. And this is where sports and life converge. Kelley, an accomplished marketing communications professional, says that her parents never required her to work hard. In fact, they discouraged her from setting big goals because they wanted to protect her from disappointment. Kelley grabbed the opportunity to change this life pattern even as she worried she might succumb to a habit of inconsistency.

Once she committed Kelley knew that simply participating wasn’t enough; she wanted to row as well as she could. After 6 weeks of early morning workouts with Quinsigamond (while continuing to practice with Community Rowing and work full-time) Kelley rowed the Head of the Charles, putting heart, soul, body, and mind into it.

The experience changed Kelley’s life. Setting and working towards goals, such as trying out for a competitive team, is now routine. While telling me her story she refers to herself as an athlete and smiling, says that it’s still hard to believe that she can—finally—call herself an athlete.