The News Page: 2005 Season Final Remarks

By Brian Conley _______________________________________________________________
Dear Seniors,

Throughout this past year, you have been an outstanding group who provided leadership, control, and also an attitude that facilitated an outstanding season of success. Most of you started out the year with the fall program out of Bachelors, where we learned simple technical skills that just simply moved the boat instead of trying to power everything in one stroke all the time. All at the same time, you began to work on the beginning of your fitness levels. It was this season that we made huge strides in what would become a very successful spring season.

A new method of fast weight loss!

The end of the fall program provided for the beginning of the dark winter days. It was everyday that you came to the cafeteria in the evenings. It was everyday you as a class were showing the underclassmen what it meant to improve and what it took to improve drastically. You froze out on the track on Tuesdays and you were sweating with the rest of the team the rest of the week. We saw times drop by minutes this winter. People realized levels that they could reach. It was awesome to watch some of you attain what you did and for some of you see the "switch go on" in your head that you could go harder than you previously thought you could. Some of you earned the right to go to Boston and race against the best of the best. We had fun getting lost in Boston...which is probably my least favorite place to drive as we all found out. However, once we firgured it out, we raced. We watched some of the best rowers in the world go at it and how they attack each race. With all of this in front of your eyes, you brought a sense back to the team that we could do better. You brought back the idea that just coming to practice was no longer an option, but the attitude now was come to practice and win.

When we finally hit the water in the spring, you were quick to show that LM had speed that was going to increase throughout the year. You led a very young team and forced them to rise to the occasion in order to make a boat. I congratulate you on all of your hard work throughout the year and wish you all the best of luck in college. For those that will be continuing to row or cox in college, please keep me aware of your race schedules. You are all now coaches for Lower Merion and are welcome back at any time. I want you all to know that you made a huge difference on this team this year and have placed it on the right path to bringing those championships back to LM. You will be missed and remembered, you are always welcome back!!

By Mike Wood _______________________________________________________________
Watching a crew row down the Scuylkill can be a thing of beauty. With precise timing, a delicately balanced set and meticulously controlled slides; eight oarsmen can glide through the water with an effortless grace. There are also many other things that rowers can do to make the face cringe of even the most unmindful spectator. In the case of novice rowing, that spectator is typically the coach. And so began my time coaching the Lower Merion Freshman Boys.

I knew my first year of coaching would be a lot of fun, but realized there would be many things to learn as well. The first thing I learned was that I was going to have to work on my communication. Rowing has many unique terms, that to an untrained ear, can sound like clattered nonsense. How many people thought the first time you heard someone caught a crab, you were going to have seafood for dinner that night? Knowing what a crab is might not be the most important thing to know your first time in a boat, but it is a good illustration of how simple terms would need explanation. Before we left the dock, I did have the foresight to explain the term 'weigh-enough', which means stop rowing! By the end of the season I had communicated a host of rower slang to the guys, topped off with the fabled AMF 20.

Another thing I had to learn as a coach was how to motivate. Coming from a program where 30 guys were vying for 8 seats was a stark contrast to 4 freshmen competing for 4 seats. I did want guys to do well in the races, but more importantly I wanted them rowing the best they were capable of. To do this would require a great deal of motivation. Whenever possible I would workout with the guys. Not only did this help motivate them, but it gave me a good workout as well. I also tried to make the time on the water an enjoyable experience. I know rowing can be mundane at points, but having fun can be an important characteristic of a good crew. Near the end of the season I let the rowers choose the workouts for a practice. I don’t know how much was accomplished by that practice, but everyone seemed to enjoy it. In the end, rowing is a sport that takes tremendous personal drive. Each rower was able to balance pushing themselves with having a good time. That, in turn, made them enjoyable to coach as well.

All in all, I had a great time coaching this year. It was very rewarding to watch the guys evolve from crab catching oar-waglers to precise boat-moving oarsmen. They still have much to improve on, but I had a blast teaching the basics. I hope all the guys I coached had a great time and enjoyed it enough to continue rowing in the future.