Question of the Day

I’m the coxswain who doesn’t push her rowers. I think the reason I can’t say what I would like to say is my rowers don’t exactly like me because I am a goody two-shoes. Whenever I tell them in practice (races are different) that they should push themselves for these ten strokes or don’t get lazy on me, power through it, they tell me that I have no idea what they’re going through and I can’t say anything because I’m not doing anything.

I have zero – ZERO – patience or respect for rowers with attitudes like this. None whatsoever. It’s arrogant, obnoxious, rude, and unsportsmanlike. I truly think it’s hilarious when rowers are all “you have no idea what we’re going through” and treat the coxswains like crap because our jobs are “so easy”. What I really want to say to them is “um, you have no idea what I‘m going through right now having to deal with you and your attitude”. It’s like they can’t see things from the perspective of the coxswain and worse, they won’t attempt to. I have issues with that and sorry not sorry, it pisses me off.

Related: My friends don’t really understand coxing and think I just sit there and do nothing, or it’s a ‘wimps job’ (this girl’s not my friend) and I was just wondering if you have an eloquent way to describe the importance/difficulty of coxing and how it’s not actually an easy job?

I don’t care if your rowers don’t like you, whether it’s because they think you’re a goody two-shoes or because you like the color blue instead of neon orange. It doesn’t matter. No one said rowers and coxswains have to be BFFs. What has been said though and what should be common sense is that you respect each other, and that’s clearly not happening. From my experience when I’ve seen coxswains get called “goody two shoes” it’s because they’re trying to do what the coach has asked them to do or they’re trying to actually get the rowers to do something and the rowers don’t want to do it. If you don’t want to do it fine, but get out of the boat. Don’t be an ass to the person who’s job it is to run practice and make sure things get accomplished efficiently and correctly.

If they say to you that you can’t say anything because you’re “not doing anything” then don’t say anything. Let them figure it out on their own. When your coach asks why you’re being silent you can tell them that your boat doesn’t think you have the authority to tell them what to do because you’re not making any contribution to the boat yourself. (If you really want to be passive-aggressive, which may or may not help, say this to your coach on the water over your microphone so the rowers hear you say it.) At this point your coach will hopefully have a talk with the rowers and tell them to get their shit together and take their egos down a few notches. You should talk to your coach though before it gets to this point. The first time someone said something to you is when you should have gone to your coach. Explain the situation, tell him/her what they’ve said, and then say that if that’s how they’re going to act you either want to be put in a different boat or you want a boat meeting held with you, the rowers, and the coach(es) present. The kind of dynamic you’ve got going on right now does. not. work. and it needs to change.

I don’t necessarily condone stooping to their level but I also tend to think rowers should treat their coxswain the way they want their coxswain to treat them. If the rowers are going to treat the coxswain poorly and not respect them or what they bring to the table, why should the coxswain make any effort to do anything for the rowers? And vice versa too – if the coxswain is power-tripping and treating the rowers like a bunch of slaves, why would/should the rowers respond to that? There has to be a mutual understanding between all nine of you that everyone contributes something and just because one person’s contribution isn’t physical doesn’t mean that they’re any less valuable to the crew. Their job, LITERALLY their responsibility as a coxswain, is to tell you what to do. Either suck it up and accept that is part of our job description or get out of the boat and go scull.

You need to stand up for yourself. Don’t be intimidated by them and don’t say “oh they’re older than me, I can’t say anything to them, etc.”. YOU ARE THE LEADER OF THE BOAT. Act like it. If they see you as someone they can walk all over, believe me, they’ll do it. Go out there with a determined, confident attitude and don’t take their shit. Discuss this with your coaches, get their input on the situation (since they know you and your crew better), and let them deal with it. It falls under their list of responsibilities to deal with these kinds of situations so once you’ve alerted them to the fact that there’s an issue, hopefully they’ll do their part and have a serious talk with the rowers. Like I’ve said before though, they can’t help you or do anything about the situation if they don’t know there’s a problem.

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