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First and Foremost.

The Rules, Guidelines, and Procedures of the Orange County Rowing Association are presented to facilitate the safety and enjoyment of recreational and competitive rowing, and sculling. Combining good judgment, and common sense on the water and on land can prevent accidents. Together we can maintain a safe and positive environment in which to row, socialize, and excel!


Please find all of the OCRA safety documents below. If you have any questions about any of the rules, guidelines, and procedures that our outlined in our Safety Policy or Handbook, please do not hesitate to contact an OCRA representative!


OCRA complies to all applicable USCG Regulations and NYS Navigation Law.



It is a violation of this Athlete Protection Policy if a staff member and/or volunteer knows of misconduct, but takes no action to intervene on behalf of the athlete(s), participant(s), staff member and/or volunteer. Every staff member and/or volunteer is obligated under this policy to report known misconduct.



Although these policies are designed to reduce child sexual abuse and other misconduct, it can still occur. Staff members and volunteers of Orange County Rowing Association shall follow the reporting procedures set forth in USRowing’s Reporting Policy.


OCRA does not investigate suspicions or allegations of child physical or sexual abuse, or attempt to evaluate the credibility or validity of such allegations, as a condition of reporting suspicions or allegations to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.



Violations of the Athlete Protection Policy shall be reported pursuant to our Reporting Policy and will be addressed under our Disciplinary Rules and Procedure.




OCRA members, staff, and/or volunteers should report issues to their supervisor or any of the members of the Board including:


A staff member and/or volunteer may, and in many cases must, report any allegation of child physical or sexual abuse to relevant law enforcement authorities.


OCRA will take a report in the way that is most comfortable for the person initiating a report including an anonymous, in person, verbal or written report. Regardless of how you choose to report, it is helpful to OCRA for individuals to provide, at a minimum,


(1) the name of the complainant(s); and,

(2) the type of misconduct alleged and the name(s) of the individual(s) alleged to have committed the misconduct.



Individuals reporting child physical or sexual abuse or other misconduct may complete an Incident Report Form (provided on the safety page on our website). Information on this form will include:


(1) the name(s) of the complainant(s);

(2) the type of misconduct alleged;

(3) the name(s) of the individual(s) alleged to have committed the misconduct;

(4) the approximate dates the misconduct was committed;

(5) the names of other individuals who might have information regarding the alleged misconduct; and,

(6) a summary statement of the reasons to believe that misconduct has occurred.


OCRA will withhold the complainant’s name on request, to the extent permitted by law.


In conjunction and with the help of the United States Olympic Committee, USRowing and OCRA  have adopted the following SafeSport policies as they relate specifically to OCRA run activities. Such activities include OCRA sanctioned and owned events, national and international team competitions and all activities associated with OCRA.

Rowing is a life-long activity, where our athletes engage to have fun and spend time with friends. Sport also encourages a healthy lifestyle, and builds self-confidence. Our athletes often do better off the field than those who do not participate in sport. They learn goal-setting, teamwork and time management skills. Athletes are less likely to use cigarettes, drugs and alcohol; they have higher graduation rates and are more likely to attend college.

Unfortunately, sport can also be a high-risk environment for misconduct, including child physical and sexual abuse. Here, we identify six primary types of misconduct:

  • Bullying

  • Harassment

  • Hazing

  • Emotional Misconduct

  • Physical Misconduct

  • Sexual Misconduct, including Child Sexual Abuse (All cases of sexual misconduct are referred to the U.S. Center for SafeSport)


All forms of misconduct are intolerable and in direct conflict with the Olympic Ideals and those of USRowing and OCRA. Misconduct may damage an athlete’s psychological well-being; athletes who have been mistreated experience social embarrassment, emotional turmoil, psychological scars, loss of self-esteem and negative impacts on family, friends and the sport. Misconduct often hurts an athlete’s competitive performance and may cause him or her to drop out of sport entirely.

USRowing and OCRA are committed to improving the development and safety of athletes and participants involved in our sport. To do so, staff members and/or volunteers should have a basic understanding of sexual abusers, as well as “grooming,” the most common strategy offenders use to seduce their victims. Using a combination of attention, affection and gifts, offenders select an athlete, win the athlete’s trust, manipulate the athlete into sexual activity, and keep the athlete from disclosing abuse.


Staff members and/or volunteers shall complete awareness training concerning misconduct in sport before performing services for OCRA. Staff members and/or volunteers must successfully complete the training and quiz after the test. OCRA has partnered with USRowing and the USOC to provide training free of charge through

Those staff members and volunteers who are required to take awareness training will take athlete awareness training every three (3) years, the first training to commence no more than 60 day(s) before they have contact with athletes.

Please go to to sign up for your SafeSport Certification.



Staff members, contractors and/or volunteers must consent to, and pass, a formal applicant screening process before performing services for OCRA.


Elements of our screening process include, as applicable, successful completion of an application, interview, reference check and criminal background check.




To deter applicants who may be at risk of abusing athletes or participants from applying for positions, OCRA educates its applicants about its protection policies and offers applicants an early opt-out by:


  • Requiring awareness training before working with athletes and participants

  • Informing applicants about our policies and procedures relevant to prevention

  • Asking applicants to review and agree to our policies and procedures before proceeding with the process

  • Requiring applicants to sign a document acknowledging review of our policies and procedures



Each applicant for a position will complete an application form consisting of personal, identifying information and a general release with applicant’s signature.


The written application will:

  • Ask about previous work and volunteer experiences

  • Ask questions intended to elicit information concerning high-risk behaviors

  • Provide a written release for contacting personal references and performing a criminal background check, including an indemnification clause

  • Ask open-ended questions that encourage broad answers

  • Use disclosure statements to ask applicants about previous criminal arrests or convictions for sexual offenses, violence against youth and other violent criminal offenses or felonies


For employee applicants, appropriate staff will interview employee applicants whose experience and credentials are considered a fit for available positions. During this interview, USRowing will ask questions to encourage discussion, clarify responses and expand on the applicant’s answers to questions from the written application.


References of applicants will be contacted (either by phone or in writing) and asked specific questions regarding the applicant’s professional experiences, demeanor and appropriateness for involvement with minor athletes and participants.


Each applicant also will provide a signed release, consistent with federal and New York (or local) laws regulating employment practices, that allows references to speak freely about the applicant’s qualifications without fear of reprisal and authorizing OCRA to obtain information concerning an applicant’s past employment, volunteer experience and information provided by the applicant during the screening process (i.e., written application and personal interview).


All applicants will be asked to undergo a criminal background check that complies with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and any applicable state law before providing services for OCRA. Through this criminal background check, OCRA will utilize reasonable efforts to ascertain past criminal history of an applicant.


In the event that any staff member observes inappropriate behaviors (i.e., policy violations), suspected physical or sexual abuse or misconduct, it is the personal responsibility of each staff member to immediately report his or her observations to an immediate supervisor, or OCRA Chairman or a member of the Board (i.e., President, Vice-President, Treasurer, or Secretary).

In the event that any volunteer observes inappropriate behaviors (i.e., policy violations), suspected physical or sexual abuse or misconduct, it is the personal responsibility of each volunteer to immediately report his or her observations. In the case of Board and committee members, to OCRA Chairman or a member of the Board.

OCRA is committed to creating a safe and positive environment for athletes’ physical, emotional and social development and to ensuring that it promotes an environment free of misconduct.

Staff members and volunteers should not attempt to evaluate the credibility or validity of child physical or sexual abuse allegations as a condition for reporting to appropriate law enforcement authorities.

Instead, it is the responsibility of each staff member and volunteer to immediately report suspicions or allegations of child physical or sexual abuse to an immediate supervisor or a member of the OCRA Board.


OCRA recognizes that the process for training and motivating athletes will vary with each coach and athlete, but it is nevertheless important for everyone involved in sport to support the use of motivational and training methods that avoid misconduct.


(1) A pattern of deliberate, non-contact behavior that has the potential to cause emotional or psychological harm to an athlete. Non-contact behaviors include:

a) verbal acts,

b) physical acts, and

c) acts that deny attention or support.

(2) Any act or conduct described as emotional abuse or misconduct under federal or state law (e.g. child abuse, child neglect). 


Emotional misconduct does not include professionally-accepted coaching methods of skill enhancement, physical conditioning, team building, discipline or improving athletic performance. 


Examples of emotional misconduct prohibited by this policy include, without limitation: 

(1) Verbal Acts. A pattern of verbal behaviors that (a) attack an

athlete personally (e.g., calling them worthless, fat or disgusting) or (b) repeatedly and excessively yelling at a particular participant or participants in a manner that serves no productive training or motivational purpose.

(2) Physical Acts. A pattern of physically aggressive behaviors, such as (a) throwing sport equipment, water bottles or chairs at, or in the presence of, participants; or (b) punching walls, windows or other


(3) Acts that Deny Attention and Support. A pattern of (a) ignoring an athlete for extended periods of time or (b) routinely or arbitrarily excluding participants from practice.



(1) Contact or non-contact conduct that results in, or reasonably threaten to cause physical harm to an athlete or other sport participants; or

(2) Any act or conduct described as physical abuse or misconduct under federal or state law (e.g. child abuse, child neglect, assault).


Physical misconduct does not include professionally-accepted coaching methods of skill enhancement, physical conditioning, team building, appropriate discipline or improving athlete performance. For example, hitting, punching and kicking are well-regulated forms of contact in combat sports, but have no place in rowing. 


Examples of physical misconduct prohibited by this Policy include, without limitation:

(1) Contact offenses. Behaviors that include:

a) punching, beating, biting, striking, choking or slapping an athlete;

b) intentionally hitting an athlete with objects or sporting equipment;

c) providing alcohol to an athlete under the legal drinking age (under U.S.

law, regardless of location of distribution);

d) providing illegal drugs or non-prescribed medications to any athlete;

e) encouraging or permitting an athlete to return to play pre-maturely following a serious injury (e.g., a concussion) and without the clearance of a medical professional;

f) prescribing dieting or other weight-control methods (e.g., weigh-ins, caliper tests) without regard for the nutritional well-being and health of athlete.

(2) Non-contact offenses. Behaviors that include:

a) isolating an athlete in a confined space (e.g., locking an athlete in a small space);

b) forcing an athlete to assume a painful stance or position for no athletic purpose (e.g. requiring an athlete to kneel on a harmful surface);

c) withholding, recommending against or denying adequate hydration, nutrition, medical attention or sleep.


(1) Any touching or non-touching sexual interaction that is

(a) non consentual or forced,

(b) coerced or manipulated, or

(c) perpetrated in an aggressive, harassing, exploitative or threatening manner;

(2) Any sexual interaction between an athlete and an individual with evaluative, direct or indirect authority. Such relationships involve an imbalance of power and are likely to impair judgment or be exploitative; or

(3) Any act or conduct described as sexual abuse or misconduct under federal or state law (e.g. sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, rape).

Note: An imbalance of power is always assumed between a coach and an athlete.



Types of sexual misconduct include:

(1) sexual assault,

(2) sexual harassment,

(3) sexual abuse, or

(4) any other sexual intimacies that exploit an athlete. 

Minors cannot consent to sexual activity with an adult, and all sexual interaction between an adult and a minor is strictly prohibited. 




Examples of sexual misconduct prohibited under this Policy include, without limitation:


(1) Touching offenses. Behaviors that include:

a) fondling an athlete’s breasts or buttocks

b) exchange of reward in sport (e.g., team placement, scores, feedback) for sexual favors

c) genital contact

d) sexual relations or intimacies between persons in a position of trust,

authority and/or evaluative and supervisory control over athletes or other sport participants. 


1. Authority and Trust. Once the unique coach-athlete relationship is established, the authority and trust on the part of the coach over the athlete shall be assumed, regardless of age. Accordingly, sexual interaction or intimacies between a coach and an athlete or other participant are prohibited, regardless of age, both during coaching and during that period following coaching if an imbalance in power could jeopardize effective decision-making. 

2. Imbalance of Power. Factors relevant to determining whether there is an imbalance of power include, but are not limited to:

(a) the nature and extent of the coach’s supervisory, evaluative or other authority over the athlete being coached;

(b) the actual relationship between the parties;

(c) the parties’ respective roles;

(d) the nature and duration of the sexual relations or intimacies;

(e) the age of the coach;

(f) the age of the athlete or participant;

(g) and whether the coach has engaged in a pattern of sexual interaction with other athletes or participants. 

3. Exception. This section does not apply to a pre-existing relationship between two spouses or life partners.

(2) Non-touching offenses. Behaviors that include:

a) a coach discussing his or her sex life with an athlete

b) a coach asking an athlete about his or her sex life

c) a coach requesting or sending a nude or partial-dress photo to athlete

d) exposing athletes to pornographic material

e) sending athletes sexually explicit or suggestive electronic or written messages or photos (e.g. “sexting”)

f) deliberately exposing an athlete to sexual acts

g) deliberately exposing an athlete to nudity (except in situations where locker rooms and changing areas are shared)

h) sexual harassment; specifically, the sexual solicitation, physical advances, or verbal or nonverbal conduct that is sexual in nature, and

a) is unwelcome, offensive or creates a hostile environment, and the

offending individual knows or is told this

b) is sufficiently severe or intense to be harassing to a reasonable

person in the context.


(1) Any sexual activity with a child where consent is not or cannot be given. This includes sexual contact with a child that is accomplished by deception, manipulation, force or threat of force, regardless of the age of the participants, and all sexual interactions between an adult and a child, regardless of whether there is deception or the child understands the sexual nature of the activity.

Note concerning peer-to-peer child sexual abuse: Sexual contact between minors also can be abusive. Whether or not a sexual interaction between children constitutes child sexual abuse turns on the existence of an aggressor, the age difference between the children, and/or whether there is an imbalance of power and/or intellectual capabilities.

(2) Any act or conduct described as child sexual abuse under federal or state law.





Sexually abusive acts may include sexual penetration, sexual touching or non-contact sexual acts such as verbal acts, sexually suggestive electronic or written communications, exposure or voyeurism.



(1) An intentional, persistent and repeated pattern of committing or willfully tolerating physical and non-physical behaviors that are intended, or have the reasonable potential, to cause fear, humiliation or physical harm in an attempt to socially exclude, diminish or isolate the targeted athlete(s), as a condition of membership.

(2) Any act or conduct described as bullying under federal or state law. 


Bullying does not include group or team behaviors that (a) are meant to establish normative team behaviors, or (b) promote team cohesion. For example, bullying does not include verbal admonitions to encourage team members to train harder and to push through a difficult training regimen.


Examples of bullying prohibited by this Policy include, without limitation: 

(1) Physical behaviors. Behaviors that include (a) hitting, pushing, punching, beating, biting, striking, kicking, choking or slapping an athlete; (b) throwing at, or hitting an athlete with, objects such as sporting equipment. 

(2) Verbal and emotional behaviors. Behaviors that include:

(a) teasing, ridiculing, intimidating;

(b) spreading rumors or making false statements; or

(c) using electronic communications, social media or other technology to harass, frighten, intimidate or humiliate (“cyber bulling”). 


(1) A repeated pattern of physical and/or non-physical behaviors that

(a) are intended to cause fear, humiliation or annoyance, (b) offend or degrade, (c) create a hostile environment or (d) reflect discriminatory bias in an attempt to establish dominance, superiority or power over an individual athlete or group based on gender, race, ethnicity, culture, religion, sexual orientation, gender expression or mental or physical disability; or

(2) Any act or conduct described as harassment under federal or state law





Examples of harassment prohibited by this Policy include, without limitation:

(1) Physical offenses. Behaviors that include:

(a) hitting, pushing, punching, beating, biting, striking, kicking, choking or slapping an athlete or participant;

(b) throwing at or hitting an athlete with objects including sporting equipment. 

(2) Non-physical offenses. Behaviors that include:

(a) making negative or disparaging comments about an athlete’s sexual orientation, gender expression, gender, disability, religion, race, skin color, national origin or ethnic traits; (b) displaying offensive materials, gestures or symbols; (c) withholding or reducing playing time to an athlete based on his or her sexual orientation. 


(1) Coercing, requiring, forcing or willfully tolerating any humiliating, unwelcome or dangerous activity that serves as a condition for (a) joining a group or (b) being socially accepted by a group’s members; or

(2) Any act or conduct described as hazing under federal or state law.


Hazing does not include group or team activities that (a) are meant to establish normative team behaviors or (b) promote team cohesion. 


Examples of hazing prohibited by this Policy include, without limitation:

(1) requiring, forcing or otherwise requiring the consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs

(2) tying, taping or otherwise physically restraining an athlete

(3) sexual simulations or sexual acts of any nature

(4) sleep deprivation, otherwise unnecessary schedule disruption or the withholding of water and/or food

(5) social actions (e.g. grossly inappropriate or provocative clothing) or public displays (e.g. public nudity) that are illegal or meant to draw ridicule

(6) beating, paddling or other forms of physical assault

(7) excessive training requirements focused on individuals on a team supervision

During training and competition, USRowing strives to create two-deep leadership and minimize one-to-one interactions to create a safe training environment and to protect athletes and participants.



An individual meeting may be necessary to address an athlete’s concerns, training program or competition schedule. Under these circumstances, coaches, staff members and volunteers are to observe the following guidelines.

Any individual meeting should occur when others are present and where interactions can be easily observed.

Where possible, an individual meeting should take place in a publicly visible and open area, such as the corner of a boathouse or rowing dock.

If an individual meeting is to take place in an office, the door should remain unlocked and open.

If a closed-door meeting is necessary, the coach, staff member and/or volunteer must inform another coach, staff member and/or volunteer and ensure the door remains unlocked.


An individual training session(s) with an athlete or participant may also be desired or necessary. Under these circumstances, written permission of a minor athlete’s parents or guardians is required in advance of the individual training session(s), and USRowing encourages parents and guardians to attend the training session. 


Except as set forth above, minor athletes and participants will not be left unattended or unsupervised during USRowing activities, including being left alone on shore during water practice time, and USRowing coaches, staff members and/or volunteers are prohibited from being alone with an individual athlete or participant in any room or building.


Minor athletes and participants may be placed in one-to-one interaction in a coaching launch during an on-the-water practice session. During this period, the launch should remain in visible and audible contact with the crews on the water.


Appropriate physical contact between athletes and coaches, staff members, contractors or volunteers is a productive and inevitable part of sport. Athletes are more likely to acquire advanced physical skills and enjoy their sport participation through appropriate physical contact. However, guidelines for appropriate physical contact reduce the potential for misconduct in sport.


USRowing adheres to the following principles and guidelines in regards to physical contact with our athletes. 


Physical contact with athletes – for safety, consolation and celebration – has multiple criteria in common which make them both safe and appropriate. These include:

  • the physical contact takes place in public;

  • there is no potential for, or actual, physical or sexual intimacies during the physical contact; and

  • the physical contact is for the benefit of the athlete, not to meet an emotional or other need of an adult.


The safety of our athletes is paramount, and in many instances, we make the athletic space safer through appropriate physical contact. 

Examples include:

  • spotting an athlete so that they will not be injured by a fall or piece of equipment;

  • positioning an athlete’s body so that they more quickly acquire an athletic skill, get a better sense of where their body is in space, or improve their balance and coordination;

  • making athletes aware that they might be in harm’s way because of other athletes practicing around them or because of equipment in use; and

  • releasing muscle cramps.


Sports are physical by definition, and we recognize participants often express their joy of participation, competition, achievement and victory through physical acts. We encourage these public expressions of celebration, which include:

  • greeting gestures such as high-fives, fist bumps, and brief hugs

  • congratulatory gestures such as celebratory hugs, “jump-arounds” and pats on the back for any form of athletic or personal accomplishment.



It may be appropriate to console an emotionally distressed athlete (e.g., an athlete who has been injured or has just lost a competition). Appropriate consolation includes publicly:

  • embracing a crying athlete;

  • putting an arm around an athlete while verbally engaging them in an effort to calm them down (“side hugs”); and

  • lifting a fallen athlete off the dock.



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