Coxswains embrace key role


Nick Runkel and Ian Criman

The quarterback, the point guard, the catcher and the coxswain. All of these positions have the power to control the pace of their team’s match, game or race.

While most people are aware of the roles of leaders in other sports, crew coxswains are a relatively unknown, but vital part of the crew team.

“A coxswain plays a key part in motivating the boat and controlling the boat’s pace,” junior coxswain Nick Rehor said.

Junior coxswain Marissa Kleiman said a coxswain can never have an off day, because their performance is critical to how the boat performs overall.

“Rowers can tell if you are not giving it all you have, and how can I ask people on my boat to work really hard if I’m not trying very hard myself?” Kleiman said.

Coxswains are generally built different than rowers.  An average coxswain is smaller, and because of this, he or she must find ways other than physical strength or rowing ability to earn respect from the rowers.

“It can be difficult at times to maintain a level of respect with the rowers; coxswains usually work out at practice so that we can say that we are working hard as well,” Kleiman said.  “I give orders to people that are a lot bigger than I am, so finding a balance for that can be difficult.”

In the heat of the race, rowers often look to their coxswain for motivation and advice.

“When you are rowing, you are so focused on your own performance and keeping a rhythm with the rest of the boat that you’re not paying attention to what is going on around you,” junior Hunter Madden said.  “Coxswains usually call out where we are in a race and it really does help knowing where you are.”

Madden said coxswains are also called upon to help teach and correct the rowers technique.

“Part of the coxswain’s job is to help call out what a rower is doing wrong at the time, and it can help during a race especially,” Madden said.

On race day, the coxswain must be on top of everything going on during the race: the conditions, the ability of their rowers, and their competition.

Said sophomore Robbie Sirney said, “They control the boat, and if you have a coxswain that doesn’t know what they’re doing, you can’t win a race.”