My “on again, off again” coaching career took a gentle restart today. I have signed up to help the Otago Rowing Association deliver a coach support service to the rowing clubs in Central and North Otago, New Zealand. This means that I will be visiting Dunstan Arm, Cromwell, Wanaka and Oamaru clubs over the summer to help their crews and coaches.
Two things struck me forcibly: Firstly this is a real community club. Over the weekend I coached many of the club’s active members at least once and they were an interesting and diverse group. They ranged between 13 year old beginners, boys and girls, older experienced juniors seeking National honours and on upward to forty-somethings who are just learning to row and vastly experienced competitive athletes carrying on the sport they chased as fit, hard bodied kids thirty years ago.
The coaches are equally diverse – parents of the beginners who admit to little knowledge but much keenness, older retired athletes and current athletes. They all have several things in common – no one gets paid, and they all see their task as helping the athletes.
No raging coaching egos here!
Secondly they row in paradise. Though I must admit to bias here, as I am a late but passionate convert to the Central Otago life. The Dunstan rowers train on a 20km stretch of water surrounded by towering hills that are still snow tipped at this time of year. Today the temperature was 20°C and the kids swam after training in the clear waters that hold salmon and trout and support a wide variety of birds including the rare Great Crested Grebe. The banks of the lake hold treasures for the foraging foodie too – Elderflower, Asparagus, Cherries, Walnuts and Mushrooms can all be found here.
Over the coming weeks I will post occasional snippets about my experiences as a rowing coach in paradise.