Question of the Day

Hi! I have been a competitive rower for the last three years (lightweight), and I have been trying to get my coach to let me learn how to cox for the last two. I always have been in bow seat and have even bowed a straight four and every time I try to talk to her about coxing she has given me the runaround. The men’s team at my club is in need of a cox, but she still won’t let me try. I just don’t know what to do anymore because I keep getting injuries when trying to continue to row, but love my teammates and want to stay for them. Is there any way that I can convince her to let me cox? Our current coxswain is taller than me, and I only weigh more because of weight lifting.

This is my take on this, which I’ve said on here several times before: if you want to cox for another team, you don’t need your coach’s permission. All you need to do is give them the proper notice (2-3 days sounds reasonable) and say “I heard the men’s team needs a coxswain, I’ve spoken to their coach and they’re interested in having me join the team so I’m going to go to their practice on Thursday.”

I only really advocate doing this in situations where you’re not happy with your current team (and have made that known to your parents/coach) or are trying to cox but aren’t being given the chance. If your team has plenty of coxswains and the other team doesn’t or you feel that you’d get a better shot at coxing the boats you want with them, that’s also legitimate I think. It’s really a case-by-case thing. Randomly just up and saying “Yea so I’m going to cox the boys today and maybe for the rest of the season” doesn’t fly and your coach is well within their right to be pissed at you.

Although bowing a four/quad is a little different than coxing, it’s pretty similar and something that I think would probably be a could indicator to see how well someone could handle the coxswain role if they were to switch from rowing. If you’re rowing though and consistently being injured, that’s a different story. I’m assuming from what you said about being a lightweight and rowing bow seat that you’re probably pretty small, so I’m guessing that most of your injuries come from trying to keep up with the other rowers or compensating for height/strength differences. You’re not an effective rower when you’re injured so it seems counter-intuitive to make you keep doing it, especially when you’ve consistently expressed interest.

Assuming your teammates are also your friends, they probably know all the injuries you’ve had and the fact that you’ve been asking to cox for two years now so hopefully they’d be supportive of your decision to cox the guys if that’s ultimately what you decide to do. They don’t have to be happy about it but they should at least respect your decision.

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