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Coaches’ Letter: Beyond the Boat

By Michael Callahan and Yaz Farooq

The University of Washington Rowing program stood at the top of the National Rowing field once again in 2017, taking home the team point trophies at the Pac-12, NCAA, and IRA Championships. Combined, the men’s and women’s teams won six of seven Grand Finals at our respective National Championships (the men missing Varsity 8 gold by thousands of a second). The women’s Varsity 8 took the crown as the fastest women’s boat in the land for the first time in sixteen years, as the team swept the NCAA’s. It was a superb year athletically.

It was also a superb year academically. Seventeen men and ten women made the UW Dean’s list during our Championship Season, while the women’s team average GPA (3.19) and the men’s (3.11) both increased over last year.

At the 1965 Varsity Boat Club Banquet, George Pocock addressed the crowd with these words: “Harmony, Balance, Rhythm. These things stay with you your whole life.” This is what we teach at Washington. One of the ways we are advancing that—and by doing so are leading the collegiate rowing landscape—is by emphasizing the development of young adults outside of the rowing shell. In that spirit, this year we are formally introducing our personal development curriculum: the “Beyond the Boat” life skills program.

The program is centered on the concepts of personal responsibility, accountability to teammates, valuing the University (and the academic and cultural opportunities that abound here), and the Seattle community in which we live. It is a holistic program that includes weekly seminars with guest speakers, group activities, and open discussion (along with personal introspection), and will be guided by our head coaches and our staff.

The “Beyond the Boat” program is one that we aspire for each and every participant with Washington Rowing—past, present and future. It is an innovative program that is unique in collegiate rowing. We believe it will help cement our culture in the boathouse, and help in the recruitment of top athletes to Washington.

“Beyond the Boat” also presents unique opportunities for our alumni base to re-engage with the development of our student-athletes. From attending one (or all!) of our alumni events, addressing our team, providing internship opportunities, or simply investing in our Annual Drive (which will fund this program), you can be the difference in the personal growth of our athletes.

The goal is simple: to re-invigorate and re-commit to these words “Harmony, Balance, Rhythm.” That is our priority at Washington; it always has been, and it always will be.

Thank you for your continued support and commitment to the Washington Rowing program.