Crew coach rows into new season

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By: Cana Wilson, Staff Writer

The James River crew team started off their fall season with a new coach, new rowers, lots of progress, and brisk weather.

Coach Mike Johnson has been with the team since 2012 when his daughter decided to join. Last year, Coach Johnson was assistant coach, but this year, he took full responsibility as head coach.

“Being head coach instead of assistant is a lot more responsibility. The success of the entire team is now on my shoulders.”  said Johnson

Coach Johnson shared how coaching this year is different from last year when Coach Hank was the Head coach of the crew team.

“Before, I got to focus on just coaching the rowers and I didn’t really have to worry about much else. Now, I have to coach, maintain a safe environment on and off the water, schedule the regattas and arrange transportation, and set the line-ups for the boats. I have to deal with personality differences and the occasional disagreement between the athletes. I am finding the challenges fun, but stressful at the same time. This year’s team is a good one and they are really making the transition a good one.” said Johnson.

Photo by- Corinne Minnick
Photo by Corinne Minnick.

With about 70 rowers, the crew team has almost doubled in size. This year’s slots were filled within 12 hours of releasing the applications.

“The team has been steadily growing over the years.  We have one of the winningest teams in the school and the athletes know that before they apply. They hear about the teamwork and the hard work required to compete and that gets us a lot of notice.  People want to be part of a winning team and one that works hard and together to achieve a goal.” said Johnson.

For the very first time, the crew team had a “Learn-to-Row” boat compete in the head race. The head race is an annual race for the varsity and novice rowers, so it is a major accomplishment.

“The team is making great progress.  Overall, the season has been a very good one, and at the head race, we brought home seven first place medals and three second place ribbons.  The kids are really working hard together and I am very pleased at the camaraderie amongst the rowers,” said Johnson.

Throughout the season, Coach Johnson has worked really hard with the team, and their hard work has been proven through their great progress and awards.

“My favorite part of coaching is to see the growth of the athletes over their time rowing.  These kids come here scared and unassured of themselves, and by the time they graduate, they are self-assured and very proficient at the sport.  This is something that they can do for the rest of their lives, and that alone, is a big plus,” Johnson said.