University Recruitment

Athletes have the Power

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High Standard of Rowing

The quality of University rowing around the world is exceptional. This has been driven primarily by the United States Collegiate programmes. Their desire to win, their ability to fundraise and their will to invest in recruitment has driven this performance.

Coaches in the United States aspire to run College Rowing programmes, not coach internationally. Job security is better; there are health insurance and pension provision. Plus the support and aspiration of the Alumni and Athletic Departments are strong. If you are a good coach and employ a great recruiter, then you can pick your athletes from around the world.

Except, you will need to convince the athletes to come to your University instead of going to your oppositions University.

What can you offer them that will entice them to come to your institution?

Free Education
A great Degree
Fantastic Rowing
World Class Training support
A great Network of Alumni
Great weather

Nobody can offer all of these, but each institution will have to find a way to convince athletes and their parents that to come and row..... and study.

On the one hand recruiting could be viewed as a double edged sword from a coach’s perspective. It requires a significant time commitment to discovering who the best junior athletes are, getting to know them, their coaches, and their parents; you also have to coordinate with the school, chat to the student to them about the advantages of your particular university, and so on – a time commitment which, on the face of it, detracts from time that could be spent delving into the more technical aspects of physiology, psychology, rowing technique, and other intricacies. However, the benefits of landing a strong recruiting class far outweigh the time commitment.

Patrick Lapage
Assistant Coach, Harvard Heavy Men

The challenges

By enlarge, the thing that the athletes and parents buy into the most is the trust they build with the coaching staff. Parents want to feel confident that their children will be well looked after. The athletes want to make sure that they will enjoy their rowing, will win races and get a good degree. Some of them will have international aspirations, but a lot of them won’t.

British, Australian Dutch and Canadian universities are struggling to compete. They are not able to offer the same sort of financial support as the US colleges... Not to mention facilities and support.

What is even more spectacular about the performance of the US colleges, is that all the athletes are undergraduates. This is due to strict NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) regulations around university sports competitions. Athletes may only compete for 4 years for their University.

But as there is no Postgraduate rowing market in the US. The non-US universities can recruit them for postgraduate rowing,  Masters Degrees and Ph.D.'s. This is especially where the Oxford and Cambridge Boat race comes into it’s own.

Other Global Universities will need to find a way to pick up the other Masters students who can not get the entry requirements for Oxbridge. What can they offer these athletes?

I see recruitment as a necessary piece and part of my job, coaching is multifaceted and shouldn’t be restricted of thought of as just hands-on coaching, we have to manage many areas and this is just one of them.

Rob Baker
Chief Coach, CUWBC

Oxford Brookes Univerity Men vs University of London

The final of Henley Royal Regatta 2018


Racing in fast Eights

International teams don’t like the athletes going abroad, they fear to lose them. It seems a bit short sited. These athletes will go to and race in fast eights week in and week out. This year alone Cal Berkeley Women have rowed 6:05 in not very fast conditions. Plus University of Washington Men have rowed 5:27 this season. It seemsthat the National teams should take time to identify the US University’s that run good programmes; built relationships with those coaches, and let the US colleges do their development work for them. I am sure the International coaches could offer some mentoring to US College coaches to help them improve their performance. A win-win situation.

The athletes are in a position where they can pick and choose. But there are only so many places. Not all colleges can offer full scholarships, the Ivy league university’s do not offer scholarships, they offer financial support and that is means tested, not performance related.

For some universities around the world they employ coaches to focus on recruitment which shows the huge job this can be. In the UK we do this alongside our coaching duties which makes it more challenging but the simple fact is a great rowing programme must have great athletes as well as great coaches and support and so we must do what we can to help make this happen.

Phil Gray
Chief Coach, ULBC

Is the Grass Greener over there?

Initially, it seems appealing to go to the US, but it is not an easy transition. Away from home, tough academic schedules, tough highly competitive training. If you go you are expected to perform. Not that the coaches treat the athletes badly, quite the opposite for the most part they are pretty fare. They see their athletes education as important. In fact, some of the coaches are given financial bonus’ if the clubs academic average is above a certain GPA (Grade point Average).

So no matter how good a coach you are, if you do not recruit the right athletes then you will not be winning medals. And not all coaches are good recruiters, so it is important to make sure that somebody on the coaching team is a good recruiter.

Going forward it will be interesting to see how this continues to play out, despite all the NCAA regulations on recruiting, and there are many. Will only the wealthy stay at the top? How will the US Colleges keep athletes from leaving their shores? Will National Teams step in and offer financial aid to a Talented athlete to remain in their country.

  • California Berkeley Women vs University of Washington

    Their match race in April 2018

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