Coach Benvenuto joined LM Crew in the late fall of 2006 to take over as head coach for the 2007 rowing season. David Greenspan asked a few questions that Coach Benvenuto was happy to answer.
How did you get to LM crew? My entrance into LM crew began with Brian Conley asking me the following: "Have you ever considered being a head coach?" He informed me of his forthcoming departure from the team and expressed an interest in helping LM to find a suitable replacement. That pretty much got the wheels turning and several phone calls and two interviews later I was brought aboard as the head coach.
Where did you cox? I began coxing for Drexel in 1998 when I began college. I was a walk-on and the coach took one look at me and my rowing career was finished. I learned a lot my Freshmen year - it's not easy being 5'7 and 120lbs bossing guys around who are twice your size but made mistakes and learned from them. I began on the men's novice squad, then went on to the men's JV and Varsity also spending one season with the women's JV crew. After college I went on to cox the Vesper Masters Women's Eight and I have also done some coxing for the Fairmount Masters Men's Eight.
Where did you Coach? When I graduated I spent a year with the Drexel Novice Men as an assistant coach. I was also with Prendie at the time and coxing the Vesper women. After their season ended I continued to coach at Prendergast and cox the Vesper women. Finally I was soely at Prendergast and coxing only part-time for the Vesper women. They still call me from time to time which is nice.
What attracted you to LM? The opportunity to step up and be the coach making the decisions, making the calls and ultimately being responsible for the performance of the team. Besides, Brian and Scott both spoke highly of the students and the school so I had a good idea that I would be working with the cream of the crop.
What is your 'philosophy' about rowing and how it will fit into the lives of the athletes you coach? My philosophy about rowing is centered around goal setting and believing. If you believe that you can achieve something in life you will find a way to do it. If you have doubts you will always have reasons why you were never able to achieve. Belief in something alone however is not enough. You need a goal, written down and a plan to achieve that goal. I intend to bring this approach to the LM crew team so that we can systematically begin to consistently break personal and team records.
What are your hopes/vision for the team? A winning season, of course, but simply achievement. No matter what 'place' on the water we come in I want every rower to be able to look back on the '07 season and have a sense of accomplishment. If we get better but our best still isn't good enough for first, there is no shame in that.
How do you see things shaping up so far and what would you like us all to do in the short term? I wish I could be more involved with the Men's team but at this point I am leaving them in the hands of Coach Wood and I will work closely with him to ensure that the men are making progress. I am extremely pleased with the women so far. Although they love to talk, of course, I think my message is getting through and I have high hopes to fix our technique flaws and train to win.
Winning will come from hard work, determination and focus. I will coach them on these three principles so they can apply them and experience the results. I love the classic question, "What is more important, winning or having fun." My response to that is "Winning is fun." Winning is the priority because who wants to work hard to lose. That is just foolish. Coach Stephen Benvenuto