A Visit with Arshay Cooper: A Most Beautiful Thing

Jul 01, 2020


Arshay Cooper with Concept2 co-founder Dick Dreissigacker, Judy Geer and Josh Carlson.

Arshay Cooper is a rower, author, speaker and activist. His story of rowing with the first African American high school team in America is now available for preorder in hardcover (launches June 30) and is coming soon to movie screens nationwide.

Last November, Concept2 invited Cooper to visit Concept2 and share his story. The visit was long overdue: Josh Carlson, in Concept2 Customer Service, originally connected with Cooper in 2015 when a copy of Cooper’s first book, Suga Water, arrived at Concept2 addressed to him. Carlson had been working with outreach in schools, building programs in physical education classes. He started reading, and couldn’t put the book down. Since Josh first reached out, the relationship between Cooper and Concept2 has developed as one of mutual respect and admiration. We feel fortunate to provide ongoing support for his work. 

Cooper’s movie, A Most Beautiful Thing, opens in select AMC theaters starting July 10. Watch a preview of this inspiring—and beautiful—new film.

TRAILER: A Most Beautiful Thing - Narrated by Common from 50EGGS on Vimeo.

“It was an honor to be able to speak to employees of a company that has supported me so much. From providing rowing ergs to programs in under-resourced schools, to inviting me to talk at their local high school, Concept2 has become a partner on A Most Beautiful Thing and beyond. I look forward to future collaboration.”

Arshay Cooper speaking before the students at Peoples Academy High School.

Working with Cooper, Concept2 is helping to support youth rowing programs that reach more diverse populations. Rowing programs such as these provide a community of support, help kids build confidence and discover their own strengths, and, as Cooper found, can change lives. Together with HUDSON Boat Works, Concept2 will be assisting Cooper to build rowing opportunities at an inner city school in Harlem, New York, with the aim of developing competitive on-water rowing, mentoring and entrepreneurial opportunities.

It may be awhile before many people can access programs like this one due to COVID-19 and public health concerns. We are keenly aware that there are steps we can take today, including exploring ways that the RowErg and virtual training (and racing) can be an introduction to the sport. We are committing to finding ways to open up the rowing community to a larger and more diverse base.

“As we’re looking to this fall, we’re seeing how the RowErg can give students an introduction to rowing. Students may not be able to continue participating in their usual sports. This may be the best time to give young people an opportunity to see rowing as an agent of change in their lives” explains Arshay.

Recent events have made it painfully clear that, while supporting such programs through donations of equipment and providing fundraising tools is important, we can and must do more to address racial inequity. The raw and pervasive racism that is being exposed across the country makes our efforts to date feel small and insignificant. Concept2 will be working with Cooper, and others, to identify where we can help to further our impact.

Arshay Cooper in front of Concept2's Morrisville, VT USA headquarters. November 2019.

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