Fourth year Ontario Tech student discovers passion for rowing

Ontario Tech Ridgebacks rower, Arda Celik at docks of Otonabee River near Trent University getting the rowboat ready for team practice. Photo credit: Allan Fournier

Arda Celik waited awhile before jumping into the athletic waters at Ontario Tech University.

The fourth-year Ontario Tech student picked up a paddle for the first time and joined the men’s novice rowing team this semester.

Celik, 22, is a software engineering and international student, who is from Turkey.

Celik has lived in Canada for the last five years. His mother was with him for the first four months, but she returned to Turkey after a McMaster University project she came to Canada for was finished.

Celik remained, lived on his own and finished his last year of high school in Oakville. A year later, he applied to Ontario Tech and moved to Oshawa to live on campus.

He says the first two years living in Canada were a transitional period.

Celik says he had many reasons to try out for the men’s rowing team in his fourth year. One factor was that he always wanted to be part of a team.

“Growing up I played tennis, and in Grade 12 I did cross-country, but I never really played any sports competitively,” says Celik. “Even tennis was more like a hobby.”

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Ontario Tech Ridgebacks rower, Arda Celik is a novice rower who joined the men’s rowing team this semester in his fourth year. Photo credit: Dennis Price

Another motivation for him was that he likes to inspire people to be the best version of themselves and step out of their comfort zone. Rowing gave him the best opportunity to do that.

Celik couldn’t attend the first training camp to try out for the team. He was part of an extended tryout process, which involved additional tryouts and connecting with the coaches on-campus.

Even though Celik is a fourth-year student, he found the coaches open to him and another classmate trying out.

Christie Attwood, Ridgebacks’ men rowing team novice head coach, says she realized quickly how much Celik was interested in the sport.

“Arda really strived to understand as much of the sport as quickly as he could,” Attwood says. “He was keen to ask questions, figure out how to improve and to also make a positive team environment for everyone around him.”

The rowing season is over, but Celik says he wants to continue rowing next year. It won’t be with the Ridgebacks because he graduates next spring, but he says he’s looking into other options.

“I already looked into different clubs, rowing clubs in Toronto,” says Celik. “I want to pursue moving forward and something I want to do competitively.”