You have traveled about a bit in your coaching career, from Boston with the USA Junior Team, to Yale, and now to Georgetown. And I can say no matter what, you have produced results…..what is your most treasured personal accomplishment.
So tell me about streaking and Georgetown Lightweight Rowing - I just had to ask.
I’m first and foremost a student of the sport and although success gives you credibility and is certainly more fun, I’ve always learned more from the failures. There’s nothing new in that observation, but I see each crew as intrinsically linked to those who came before them. The ’02 Junior Team marked the first decade in my coaching career, and was the culmination of many experiences, so it was really satisfying. From my perspective, the needs of that group and my skills were a great fit. But, I’d have to say the ’07 Georgetown Varsity tops the list – most of those guys had never made a grand final and some seniors won their first rowing race that spring. They were hungry and it was awesome to share in that with them. They understood “crew” in the larger sense, and still do.
We like winning streaks. So now that you have traveled the east coast where are the best rowing personalities and who are they?
Interesting question, and coming from you, it smacks of Riverside in the late 90s! In all honesty, every individual you coach brings many unique qualities to the table. I’ve been fortunate to work for, and alongside, some really great coaches and I’ve been privileged to ride launches with many others. While their personalities cover the spectrum, one common trait they all held was an excitement to help motivated individuals improve. That they are deeply competitive goes without saying. The varied and creative solutions to solving the same simple problems have always intrigued me and the personalities just help to deliver those solutions. As for the best personalities, I think they are in my JV. What are your plans for Georgetown this year….and how can a “smaller” school like Georgetown compete with the likes of Cornell, Navy and Harvard ?
Our plan was to go as fast as we could at the Sprints and faster at the IRA. Academically, Georgetown is a demanding university, its rigor a testament to both the programs offered and the ambition of our students. Rowers here want to succeed on all fronts and that combined pursuit of excellence creates balance. We have a campus culture that is at once athletic and intellectual, so that helps too. We’ve made a real push to build from the bottom up, ensuring the frosh learn how to be successful collegiate oarsmen. We do have some strong kids coming in, but because we support fewer recruits, we rely on walk-ons perhaps more than the other schools and I think it is important to take the time to teach them well. From a recruiting perspective, I’ve never tried to “sell” a school per se, but I do work hard to find kids who will thrive at Georgetown. The model, if you want to call it that, is to create a high-end opportunity and to clear a pathway for guys to pursue it with abandon. In most cases, a person of serious ambition will make all the requisite good choices on their own, largely because they care about the result. I recruit potential more than anything else–the guys here take care of the rest.
When recruiting high school guys to row lightweight are you afraid of the growth spurt in college? Not too much. Our current frosh are taller, greater in number, and lighter than the upperclassmen. It’s a guessing game to some extent, and all the teams lose bigger kids here and there. I think we do a thorough job finding guys who are lightweight oarsmen, not small heavyweights. Extra One: You coached the junior eight to medals not once, but twice, and back to back – where are those guys now?
They are all over the globe and doing well. For example, Alex Hearne and Charlie Cole both won the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race in the last two years, and some other guys are going for the Olympic team. Two of the guys from the ’02 squad, Morgan Henderson and Chris Richbourg, are working with me here at Georgetown. It is wonderful to get to know them as adults and even better to see their influence take hold. They are great at coaching and great at life – a perfect match.