Question of the Day

Hey, I’m a senior in high school. I’m a coxswain and my coach said that I should email coaches to let them know that I’m interested in joining the team, do you have any advice as to what I should do/say in the emails?

You should email as many coaches as you can (aka “cast a wide net”) but make sure when you do you at least have a legitimate interest in the school. Don’t go somewhere that has a great rowing team but is subpar in the major you’re interested in. When you email the coach, include a “rowing resume” indicating your year in school, where you go, who you cox for, the major races you’ve been to/won, notable accomplishments in rowing (coxed the 2nd varsity 8+ as a freshman, had an undefeated season leading into state championships, etc.), and your height and weight. It’s also good to include any Honors/AP courses you’re taking, GPA, and SAT/SAT 2/ACT scores so that the coach can get an idea of the kind of student you are.

Other tips…

Go to the athletic sites of the schools you’re interested in and see if they have recruiting forms on there. If they do, which 99% of them will, fill them out  so you can be added to their database. This is likely going to be the first thing coaches ask or tell you to do so just pre-empt that step by doing it before you reach out to them.

Have recordings of yourself readily available to include in your email. Have practice recordings of you coxing all kinds of drills, steady state, as well as a few different recordings of your races. Make sure they’re trimmed down too – no recording should be more than 7-10 minutes in length (and even that is pushing it).

Just like you’ll ask your teachers at school to write you letters of recommendation, ask your coaches to do the same. Inform them of your intentions to cox in college and ask them if they would be willing to write you a letter of recommendation and/or be a reference for you. If you have a good relationship with your coach, this shouldn’t be a problem. The college coaches will likely ask for your coach’s contact info anyways (as will the recruiting questionnaires) so at the very least you should give them a heads up and let them know that X coach from Y school might get in touch with them.

Explore the university. Start thinking about majors, start looking into the different programs the university offers, etc., that way when the coach asks you what attracted you to the school (besides the rowing program) you can say “Oh, well I’m really interested in pursuing _____ as a major and I know that _____ has one of the top programs in the country. I saw that they recently ____…” and then elaborate on what you’ve found out through your research. Indicating an interest not just in the program, but the university as well will go a long ways towards helping you get a foot in the door. Do your research.

Ask about practice schedules, race schedules, etc. and how they are work around classes. If you go on an official/unofficial visit, talk to the rowers and ask them how practice fits into their class schedule. Get as much information about this as you can.

Be aware that the likelihood you’ll get a scholarship as a coxswain is slim, especially the first year. Although it is possible in the future, the coaches try to save all their initial slots for getting rowers. Don’t be discouraged by this. If you’re looking at any Ivy League schools, they don’t give out any athletic scholarships to anyone. It’s a conference rule, so just be aware of that. There are only a handful of men’s programs that have scholarships to offer thanks to alumni endowments so as a coxswain, if you’re hoping to get some sort of financial assistance, women’s rowing is the way to go. That’s not to say that it’s a definite thing because like I said, the available money tends to get prioritized towards rowers first, but just that there are more opportunities available to earn one compared to if you were coxing men.

Another thing to remember is that women’s rowing is an NCAA sport while men’s rowing is not. Because of Title IX universities are required to have an equal number of men’s and women’s sports (men’s basketball, women’s basketball, etc.) Women’s rowing is the “equivalent” of men’s football according to the NCAA in order to balance out the numbers (since they both tend to be large teams) which means as a girl, you can cox for men OR women, but men can only cox for men.

Last thing – keep your parents involved in the recruiting process. Even if they don’t know anything about crew, keep them updated, ask for their advice, etc. My dad helped me a lot when I was going through the process and was an invaluable asset to me because he thought of questions that I never would have thought of. Good luck!

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