Bringing the Gold Medal Standard to Coaching Education

DAYTON, OHIO — Dayton club and college coaches share nuggets of wisdom from a weekend of workshops with USRowing’s coaching legend Kris Korzeniowski.

In a full weekend of workshops with U.S. Olympic and world championship coaching veteran Kris Korzeniowski, rowing organizations in Dayton, Ohio were reminded of the difference quality coaching can make in developing outstanding rowers and crews.

Korzeniowski, USRowing’s director of coaching education, went to Dayton in March to lead four on-water sessions with coaches from the Dayton Boat Club, the Greater Dayton Rowing Association and the University of Dayton.

“Since forming the Community Olympic Development Program two years ago, we’ve seen a lot of new interest in rowing at all levels,” said Mike Miles, founder and head coach of the Dayton Boat Club and a former collegiate coach. “Kris looked at our crews as a system — an entity — and provided feedback to the athletes and the coaches to allow for modification of the entire crew. For me, the biggest reminder was to ensure I set aside time to work persistently with individual crews. It’s easy to get caught up in being a traffic director and overlook the specific needs of individuals and crews.”

Joe Connelly, a novice coach at the Dayton Boat Club, said he was reminded to help his rowers to see themselves as a part of a unit, even while they’re learning the basics of the sport.

“As primarily a novice coach, I can get bogged down in the minutiae of correcting the host of problems new rowers have,” he said. “Kris reaffirmed the idea that I do need to occasionally step back and look at the boat as a whole and see where it can be improved.”

Korzeniowski also encouraged coaches to consider their coaching styles.

“It’s not every day you have a chance to watch a world-class coach,” said Mike Wenker, head coach of the Division I University of Dayton women’s varsity crew. “Kris shined a light on how to go about coaching and what questions to ask myself about how I coach.”

UD’s novice coach, Emilie Gross, said the workshops were a great opportunity for an early-career coach.

“As a newer coach, I found it helpful to just be around rowing and have others to listen to and watch,” said Gross, one of several who noted that it’s easy to fall into a “rut” of repetition. “Kris was able to get my gears shifting slightly different than I am used to with how he focuses on coaching.”


Mitchell Vossler, Dayton Boat Club juniors coach, learned the importance of communicating effectively to get the results he wants.

“I learned I must have my vision of what the stroke should look like, and I must continue to provide feedback to the athletes until they can perform what I ask of them,” Vossler said.

The sessions also reinforced the role of drills, said Dayton Boat Club masters coach Marty Carrabine, who also coaches the University of Dayton men’s rowing team.“You’ve got to have a very clear understanding of the technique you’re trying to coach,” Carrabine said. “Simple self-coaching drills help the rowers connect and row well together.”

Those underappreciated drills are more purposeful than they seem, said Denise Heuser, an assistant coach at Greater Dayton Rowing Association.

“I saw the progression of one drill to the next,” she said. “Keeping the main goal in mind and having the patience to have each rower become proficient in one part of the drill before moving on to the next showed great strides in accomplishing a better boat.”

Korzeniowski stressed that when rowers know a coach’s expectations, they can deliver.

“It was great to see the willingness of coaches and athletes: willing to learn, listen and to be coached,” said Korzeniowski. “There were no egos with the coaches, they were open-minded. We developed a way of showing and explaining corrections positively and constructively.”

Dayton Regional Rowing is the nation’s only Community Olympic Development Program for rowing.  It’s a partnership among USRowing, Five Rivers MetroParks, the Dayton Boat Club and the Greater Dayton Rowing Association.

Click here for information about USRowing’s coaching education program.

— Written by Maureen Schlangen, Dayton Rowing

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