They’re young, they’re fit, they’re university trained, they’re women and they’re volunteers.
The new coaching faces of rowing are turning heads and growing participation numbers.
At the NSW Rowing Championships on the weekend it was plain that men coached many of the schools and clubs represented.
Coaching has long been a male domain and the men have been middle-aged and older.
......Men with vast experience as rowers and then later as coaches at all levels.
Look harder and longer and you will see women coaches in their early 20s.
It’s not an easy role.
Male cohorts can be intimidating, but these new young coaches are bringing their university knowledge, emotional intelligence and close connections to teenagers to local clubs and schools, and keeping teenagers connected to sport.
This is not to downplay the significant contribution of experienced older coaches.
But watching young, fit women lead their teenage charges through their training, it’s clear they bring something extra.
Juniors connect well with them.
Having a coach who is young, fit and who has experienced the highs and lows of the sport, is something teenagers can not only connect with, but admire.
Whatever it is they bring, it’s growing teenage participation and keeping them in a demanding sport.
Those teenagers train in the early morning and the demands of training for strength, endurance and flexibility are not for everyone.
A strong support network is critical to the professional development of young coaches.
Adi Fawcett, of the Women in Rowing Network and the high-performance development coordinator for NSW, and Ellen Randell, the UTS Rowing Club’s senior coach, are providing it.
Leaders in coaching and rowers here training for the world cup are supplementing the knowledge.
Said Nepean Rowing Club captain Neiol Holmes: ‘‘Our young coaches, both male and female, bring enormous benefits to junior rowing.
‘‘They bring their energy, enthusiasm, knowledge and innovation.
‘‘With their recent university training in areas such as sports psychology, sports management and functional kinesiology, they also bring the latest science to local sport.
‘‘They’re also fit enough to jump in a boat and row with the juniors, to show them how it’s done.
‘‘We couldn’t get this from older coaches; we could get the rowing experience, but we couldn’t get the connection with kids, combined with innovation in our program.
‘‘All of this means we now have a junior program that has all our athletes, aged from 13-18, performing at their best every single time they take to the water.’’
Daniel Waddell and Robyn Geelen are the club’s new faces of coaching.
The club changed its approach to coaching junior athletes about 12 months ago.
This has paid off through significant increases in participation rates, and a high retention rate.
These young coaches are volunteers.
Coaching rowers can involved up to 20 hours per week and not something you would expect from Gen Y.