BARBARA SANCHEZ-SALAZAR of Fowler White Boggs founded the Youth Rowing Team of the Jacksonville Rowing Club, where she serves as counsel to the board of directors.
‘Rollin’ on the river’
Jacksonville lawyer brings her passion for rowing to students
Barbara Sanchez-Salazar, a shareholder at Fowler White Boggs in Jacksonville, remembers watching the 1976 Olympics, the first year women were allowed to row, and thinking: “I can do that. I want to be like that.”
While she never made it to the Olympics, in 1992 Sanchez-Salazar did win three gold medals in four events with the Junior National Team at the U.S. Rowing Masters National Championships; and, together with three young women and four young men, she went to Europe and won the Mixed Eight event.
Now, she says she’s most proud of founding and directing the Youth Rowing Team of the Jacksonville Rowing Club, where she serves as counsel of the board of directors.
“The Youth Team is like a child to me, watching it grow and nurturing it,” she said.
“Rowing kind of adopted me,” she explains of her passion that began in 1989. “My dad was a rower in Peru. And it was not something I knew anything about until I was in high school. My dad admitted he had been trying to get into a club,” but he wasn’t invited. “In his mind, he thought it was his accent.”
She and her dad — Dr. Anibal Sanchez-Salazar, who wound up coaching the women’s rowing team at Jacksonville University — would watch the rowers glide by on the St. Johns River flowing near their backyard. But, at her private high school, girls were not allowed to row.
“I took my senior year and went to Philadelphia to train to make the Junior National Team,” Barbara Sanchez-Salazar said. She made the Junior National Team, but did not make any teams after that, as her time was consumed with working her way through college and law school.
Rowing, she said, “got in my blood and I found it very empowering.” It was also a cool way to spend time with her dad, a physician with a busy schedule.
Three months ago, she and Leslie Smith, one of other members of the Junior National Team of ’92, started rowing together again.
“We decided we will race in Chattanooga in November,” Sanchez-Salazar said. “We’re not getting any younger. We decided: ‘Let’s see what we can do together.’ It’s a lifelong sport. My dad is now 83, and he’s still competing.”