Because there are so many aspects in a coxswain’s job, what do you think is the one thing that is hardest for you?
For me personally, the hardest part is maintaining a calm demeanor on the inside. I think because I’ve been coxing for so long I have a pretty good grasp on all the skills required of a coxswain, but with that comes a heightened sense of awareness that can drive you insane if you let it.
On the outside, I’m very good at maintaining my composure and calmly communicating to my crew what needs to happen, regardless of the situation, but on the inside I’m going 234902 miles a minute, taking in everything around me, and questioning everyone on the river. I’m not so much worried about what I’m doing so much as I am about that other coxswain out there … do they know what they’re doing? I get extremely nervous when I see another coxswain blatantly messing up on the water simply because I know how dangerous it can be for everyone else on the water, including that coxswain’s own crew. In hectic situations, even though on the outside I’m calm, I have to close my eyes and take a few breaths to calm myself down internally. Coxing is very, very, very much a trust-based discipline and I have to remind myself to trust that the other coxswain knows what he/she is doing even if at the moment it doesn’t look like they do. If I want other coxswains to trust me I have to extend the same courtesy to them, even if it’s at the sake of my own sanity.
Outside of that, the other more literal aspect of coxing that I find to be the hardest has been and always will be steering. There’s no denying that it’s a hard thing to do for any coxswain. Even though it was something I made a concerted effort to pick up quickly when I was a novice, I’m always practicing my steering skills so that every time I come off the water I can say that my steering was a little bit better today than it was yesterday. NOT steering while still steering is a tricky thing to master. One of the things I do to physically prevent myself from oversteering is only using one hand. I hate wearing my mic so I always hold it in my left hand and steer with my right. Only using one hand forces me to make very, very, very small adjustments. I put all that to the test on race day when I have to actually wear my mic and steer with both hands.