2021 USRowing Convention: Summarized

This page shares a list of summaries of most of the presentations at the 2021 USRowing Convention. I aimed to summarize each presentation in three sentences or fewer so you can quickly see what might interest you. Each presentation also has a full summary, which has all of my timestamped notes.

I was surprised and delighted with the breadth of topics covered this year. I hope these summaries help you level up and find people who can help you with the problems you might be struggling with. Feedback welcome.

I’ve organized the presentations alphabetically within each category.

The Business of Rowing

Coaching Education: The Essentials of Our Sport

Coaching Education: A Look Outside of Rowing

Coaching Education: The Quality Coaching Paradigm

Coaching Education: Trends in Performance

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Masters Monday


The Business of Rowing

COVID Keepers: Lessons Learned

Executive Director, Chicago Rowing Foundation
Team Physician, USRowing
Director, Programs & Member Services, Greenwich Water Club

This Talk in Three Sentences: COVID has wreaked havoc on the programs we can offer our athletes, so much so that it’s hard to see this time period as an opportunity. But because COVID forces us to be flexible, it’s a great time to try new things that might have been challenging before e.g. spending more time in small boats, bringing in more experts to talk to kids about things like mindset and nutrition, engaging more with the parent community, and finding ways to create more fun at practice. Regardless of the uncertainty we all face as coaches and admins, keep taking care of each other, because we are a valuable resource for our communities to feel connected to one another.

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How to Make Your Vision Come True and Convince Others to Come Along

CEO & Founder, Hydrow

This Talk in Three Sentences: There are 8 things you need to do to bring people into your vision: (1) build genuine trust with others; (2) own how you articulate your ideas and your vision; (3) know your why; (4) don’t be afraid to fail; (5) assume the best intent; (6) stop your haters with kindness; (7) stay optimistic; and (8) nurture your first few followers as equals to build a movement. Hydrow is doing all of these to bring the magic of rowing to every non-rower on the planet.

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Medical Committee Update

Chair, USRowing Medical Committee

This Talk in Three Sentences: The USRowing Medical Committee includes a wide range of medical professionals who provide care for our national team members and determine policies for rowing events, including COVID-19 policies for USRowing events and lightweight policies which led to the introduction of U17 events at Youth Nationals in 2021. In 2022, we will see more U17 and U15 events at the regional and national level.

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Workshop: How to Create and Update your SafeSport Policy

Training Manager, U.S. Center for SafeSport
Director of Talent, Operations & Safe Sport, USRowing

This Talk in Three Sentences: Unfortunately, youth sports can create opportunities for physical, emotional, sexual abuse of children, so SafeSport policies are in place to educate and guide adults, youth athletes, and parents on how best to prevent and respond to abuse. The US Center for Safe Sport has changed some parts of its Minor Athlete Abuse Prevention Policies (MAAPP) in 2021, and USRowing has now published its updated requirements for its member organizations to follow these policies. Organizations are required to offer training to their athletes, employees, and parents; adopt required MAAPP policies; outline the reporting procedure for violations; and investigate and resolve these reports.

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Workshop: How to Create and Update your Safety Plan

Executive Director of Three Rivers Rowing Association, Member USRowing Safety Committee

This Talk in Three Sentences: Your organization should express its commitment to safety through its mission, vision, and values. The most effective safety plans have three components: the best practices about what is safe for rowers in your organization, partnerships with other organizations and individuals who use your waterway, and an ongoing communication strategy that ensures that safety never becomes an afterthought for your staff or your rowers. Update your safety plan frequently in response to new incidents and what-if worst-case planning.

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Workshop: Regatta Preparation

Boatman/Coach, Norwalk River Rowing; USRowing Safety Committee

This Talk in Three Sentences: Every club has unique requirements on what equipment it needs to take to regattas and what its staff and rowers need to do before, during, and after the regatta. Ensure you have checklists for the following: pre-season, before the regatta, the trailer load, items to bring, driving safety, race day, and unloading.

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Coaching Education: The Essentials of Our Sport

Culture of Safety

Boatman/Coach, Norwalk River Rowing; USRowing Safety Committee
Safety Committee, USRowing; Girls High Performance, Maritime Rowing Club
Executive Director of Three Rivers Rowing Association, Member USRowing Safety Committee
Safety Committee, USRowing

This Talk in Three Sentences: With multiple avoidable rowing-related deaths and serious injuries in 2021, boathouses should incorporate safety into their DNA: their mission, vision, values, culture, and conversations throughout their communities. An effective safety policy incorporates processes (e.g. safety meetings, “fire drill” practices), tools (e.g. posters, life-vests, high-vis clothing), and education (e.g. community newsletters). You may encounter resistance leading these conversations on updating your safety policies, but active listening, humility, and appealing to the mission can be great tools for breaking through.

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Functional Imagery Training

CEO, Imagery Coaching
Researcher, Imagery Coaching
Applied Psychologist, Imagery Coaching

This Talk in Three Sentences: Functional Imagery Training trains athletes to build resilience, manage pressure and stress, and find balance in their lives. It has three core components: connecting your purpose to your values, motivational interviewing, and imagery. Motivational interviewing focuses on building connection and motivation in others through active listening, empathy, and precise questioning to uncover values and goals, and imagery focuses on using the imagination to rehearse both positive and negative outcomes before they happen.

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Trauma-Informed Coaching

Founder, The Center for Healing and Justice through Sport

This Talk in Three Sentences: Past trauma greatly increases the chance of athletes overreacting to small events, and that overreaction can strengthen the part of the brain that is prone to overreact, creating a vicious cycle. As coaches, we can help kids regulate their stress response by building trust, helping athletes move in patterned ways (rowing), and creating predictability in practice. This creates a more inclusive environment for kids who might otherwise feel excluded from the larger group because of their stress response.

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USRowing Annual Meeting

CEO, USRowing

This Talk in Three Sentences: In Amanda Kraus’s first year as CEO in 2021, USRowing had ambitious goals on top of already arduous year working through COVID and a USOPC assessment of high performance. The biggest changes in 2021 were to the organization itself–setting up its structure and business model to be able to execute against programming, DEI, coach education, and development aspirations in 2022. USRowing underwent a modern rebrand in preparation for those goals.

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Coaching Education: A Look Outside Rowing

Challenging the 2K Format

Coastal Coordinator, USRowing
Sport Manager, World Rowing

This Talk in Three Sentences: Coastal rowing and indoor rowing have proven successful in drawing people to the sport of rowing that flat-water rowing has not. They both challenge the traditional 2k format in ways that excite and engage spectators, and they also have lower barriers for people to participate. Capitalizing on competitions in these different formats is a viable way to continue growing the sport, both from the top-down through World Rowing and USRowing and from the bottom-up in clubs across the country.

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The Little Things Matter: A Nutrition Discussion for All Levels

Director of Sports Nutrition, USRowing
Victoria Lambert
Sports and Eating Disorder Dietitian

This Talk in Three Sentences: Fundamentals of sports nutrition can be summed up with the 5 R’s of Recovery: (1) rehydrate after workouts; (2) repair your body with sufficient protein; (3) refuel with carbohydrates; (4) reinforce your diet with fats, colorful foods, and fermented foods; and (5) repeat throughout the day. Our understanding of the impact of overtraining syndrome and RED/S on both female AND male athletes is changing, so it is important to be aware of the signs as both a coach and an athlete. Finally, diet culture and negative comments about people’s weight and appearance are still pervasive in our culture, but there are things you can say and do to change your own beliefs about food and to redirect those comments when you hear them.

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Pre-Hab Essentials

Director Athlete Health, USRowing

This Talk in Three Sentences: There are several muscles that end up weak, overused, or inhibited as a result of rowing, and they require exercises outside of the boat to care for them and avoid injury. Dr. Nowak demos 8 of these exercises that rowers can do daily to address potential dysfunction before it becomes an issue.

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Reinventing Your Sport: A Look at USA Hockey

Technical Director, USA Hockey

This Talk in Three Sentences: USA Hockey faced a crisis in 2008 when it recognized both a declining youth male membership and declining performances at the international level. What followed was a systematic revamp of the youth development model, which reversed the decline and kept kids coming back year after year. Key strategies included focusing on fun and games-based playing, especially for the youngest athletes; improving safety; mandating additional education for coaches; and creating programming specific to age groups based on their physical and cognitive development.

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Escalating Athlete Stress: Creating a Plan to Cope with the Mental Health Needs of Your Athletes

Sports Psychologist, Psy.D.

This Talk in Three Sentences: Anxiety takes many forms for student-athletes, including performance anxiety, panic attacks, and generalized anxiety, and the symptoms and coping strategies are different for each. More than 1 in 4 student-athletes reports having anxiety, so you should have a basic understanding of these symptoms and both proactive and in-the-moment coping strategies. Sports psychologists can be great resources for your team, but if you don’t have access to one, you can still do emotional check-ins with your athletes to help them stay on top of their mental health.

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High Performance Trends: Rigging and Technique

Founder, BioRow Ltd.

This Talk in Three Sentences: Coaches at all levels can use video to check two metrics from their crews that Dr. Kleshnev created to evaluate technique: catch factor and rowing style factor. Catch factor is a more accurate measure of optimal boat check, and rowing style factor evaluates the coordination of the trunk and legs during the drive. Many medal-winning crews at the Olympics demonstrate optimal values for these metrics regardless of event or rigging.

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Lessons Learned from the Olympics

Rowing Australia Performance Director

This Talk in Three Sentences: Being aware of trends in increasing speed, stroke rates, and more-even 2k pacing at the elite level can give us good insights on how to adapt our training programs to focus on aerobic power, distance and power per stroke, and maintaining speed in the middle 1000m.

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Trends in Training: Collegiate and Youth Panel

Men's Head Crew Coach, Orange Coast College
Varsity Women Co-Head Coach, Greenwich Crew
Varsity Women Co-Head Coach, Greenwich Crew

This Talk in Three Sentences: COVID-19 has drastically changed how coaches run their programs over the past 2 years, but coaches can use those changes to guide their approach to future seasons. For example, there is a role for fun that we have gotten away from in the pursuit of results (especially at the high school level). Additionally, empowering kids with controlled autonomy and purpose in their training helps create a boathouse environment that is a reliable, enjoyable safe place for athletes.

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Coaching Education: The Quality Coaching Paradigm

Communicating with Adolescent Minds

Consultant, Substance Abuse Prevention and Education

This Talk in Three Sentences: Teenagers experience emotions at 2 to 4 times the intensity of the average adult, so coaches can reach them more effectively by creating an emotionally safe environment for them to grow. Part of this effort is to be a role model to athletes on how to behave, which includes course-correcting athletes, coaches, and other adults who disparage others based on their appearance or other aspects of their identity, which can have lasting harm. Athlete-centric coaches know this and encourage athletes to grow by investing in their own skills, seeing their improvement, and being recognized by their peers and coaches for that improvement.

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Creating Healthy Parent Involvement: The Coach’s Role

Associate Professor and Founding Director, Families in Sport Lab in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Utah State University

This Talk in Three Sentences: To provide the best experience for their athletes, coaches can no longer ignore the impact of parental involvement at all levels of their program. Coaches must make an effort to engage with and educate parents on the sport itself and on the best ways to support their athletes. There are three main ways to do so: (1) model the behavior you want to see from parents, (2) encourage parents to lead with positive interactions with their kids and coaches, and (3) build strong connections with your best parents so they can be examples for others.

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Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

Executive Director & Varsity Girls Coach, Marin Rowing Association; Chair, USRowing JrHPC
Women's Head Coach, Princeton University

This Talk in Three Sentences: To be successful, coaches must (1) define success for themselves and (2) be very intentional about the roles they want to play well, the roles they want to simplify, and the roles they delegate to others inside or outside their organization. Because kids are under more stress than ever before, perhaps the most important role outside of core coaching is that of a good listener, so you can support your athletes and empower them to find solutions. We don’t know how best to balance the focus between emotional health and the grit needed to become a fast team, but if you prioritize helping your athletes become better humans first, then it’s clear you need to put emotional health first, too.

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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Adaptive Rowing Technology & Fixed Seat Rigging 2021

Para High Performance Group Coach, CRI

This Talk in Three Sentences: Coaching competitive para-rowing requires an innovative mindset because rowers need to row in different boats and seats throughout the season, and every rower’s boat setup is unique. Building technology to support every rower’s unique rig is a challenge on your own, so the para-rowing community needs to band together to spread knowledge and build solutions together. While general rigging principles from full-slide rowing cannot always be applied to para-rowing, rowing instrumentation systems like the Peach PowerLine and the NK Empower Oarlock can still reveal insights that lead to speed breakthroughs.

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Adding Adaptive and Inclusive Programs to Your Boathouse

President and CEO, Human Technologies
Founder & Board President, Row LA
Co-Founder & Board Chair, North Star Community Rowing
Co-Founder and Commodore, North Star Community Rowing

This Talk in Three Sentences: To start a new adaptive rowing program, start with people over things: (1) internally, align your leadership 100% on the vision before you invest in building programs and (2) externally, partner with both the community you want to serve and the organizations already serving those communities, so it won’t feel like starting from scratch. Once you build momentum with the right groups, you’ll find it much easier to chip away at obstacles like using/creating ADA-compliant infrastructure and acquiring boats. Finally, expect to make a lot of mistakes and to fail a lot; pick yourself up after every mistake and keep trying.

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The Case for Change: Working with the Modern Athlete

Executive Director, CRI
Head Coach, University of Tulsa Women's Rowing
Director of Physical Education, Athletics and Health, Saratoga Springs School District
Senior Associate Athletics Director/Senior Woman Administrator at UVA (Retired)

This Talk in Three Sentences: Coaches are expected to do more than ever before to help athletes be successful, so it is even more difficult to find the right coaches for your organization. Modern coaches must seek continuous improvement, commit to building up team culture, and focus on the team over individuals. Organizations, in turn, must provide opportunities for their coaches to grow and ensure that they create the right feedback models so their coaches keep delivering high-quality experiences to their athletes.

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Hear It From the Change-Makers

Executive Director of STEM to Stern
Consultant, Co-Chair DEI Committee
Board Member, Row NY
Motivational speaker
Executive Director, Pennsylvania Center for Adapted Sport
Men's Lightweight Crew, Columbia University
Manager of Para and Military Programs, CRI
Head Coach: Women's Rowing, Robert Morris University
Head Rowing Coach, St. Benedict's Preparatory School
Faculty Member in Child Welfare, University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work

This Talk in Three Sentences: The primary ways we will make rowing a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive sport are to (1) meet people where they are, not expect them to come to us; (2) create partnerships with local organizations and other individuals who are passionate about filling in the gaps that we don’t have expertise in; and (3) pay as much attention to retention as we do to recruitment. We must fight like hell to do so, because the only way this stops happening is if we stop trying.

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Judgment & Choice: Exploring Your Relationship to Change

Certified Professional Coach, Energy Leadership Index, ELI Master Practitioner & Gallup-Certified CliftonStrengths Coach

This Talk in Three Sentences: Judgment is an automatic process that gives us the ability to make sense of the world, but sometimes specific judgments can lead us to behavior which harms others. A solution to this is to build awareness of new perspectives, which we can only do by listening to and learning from communities with whom we don’t normally interact. This gives us new ideas and choices on how to govern our own thoughts and feelings, which in turn affects our behavior and helps us live in greater harmony with each other.

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Leading Through Change

Best Buddies Ambassador, Athletes Without Limits Rowing Team Captain
Crew Mom & Athletes Without Limits Booster
Athletes Without Limits National Rowing Program Director/DCSRC Community Programs Lead Coach
Two-Time Olympian (2016, 2020), Five-Time National Team Member and Two-Time World Championship Medalist, Co-Founder at Turazo
Junior Coach

This Talk in Three Sentences: Boathouses have a significant opportunity to be a place where every rower and coach can feel accepted and loved by their community. However, it takes strong, intentional leaders to create that kind of environment. Take ownership of the language you use and don’t use, lead your teams in conversations about acceptance, and help your rowers feel heard.

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Our Tokyo Medalists: What YOU can learn from the Paralympic Movement

7-Time National Team Member and 2016 & 2020 Paralympian, 2020 Paralympic Silver Medalist
USRowing Director of Para High Performance
2020 Paralympic Silver Medalist

This Talk in Three Sentences: Para-rowing in the United States has built great momentum, especially after the silver medal performance in the PR3 4+ at Tokyo, but there is still a long way to go. Youth coaches need to be aware of the pipeline for para-rowing (esp. PR3) at the national level in order to give their athletes the best opportunity to be successful. Coaches should also invite open and direct communication with their athletes about their capabilities, so they can empower and support their athletes to figure out how best for them to participate in their rowing programs.

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Outside Rowing: An Inside Look at Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Other Sports

Chief Sport Performance Officer, USA Water Polo
CEO, USRowing
Megan Ritch
Head of DEI, USA Triathlon

This Talk in Three Sentences: Other aquatic sports like triathlon and water polo have very similar DEI challenges to rowing. These include tackling the barrier of 50+% of Americans not knowing how to swim, creating pipelines that promote diversity in the highest echelons of the sport, and providing resources and educational opportunities for clubs of all sizes. We can achieve more of our DEI goals by working together with other sports rather than trying to reinvent the wheel on our own.

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Pathways for the Paralympics 2024/2028

Director of Para High Performance, USRowing
Paralympic Silver Medalist and Coach
Assistant Coach of Men's Rowing, Tufts University

This Talk in Three Sentences: US Para-Rowing needs help from coaches across the country to build up the pipeline of eligible athletes for the Para-Rowing National Team. Moving forward, there will be two pathways for athletes to join: one for sliding-seat rowing (PR3) and one for fixed-seat rowing (PR1/PR2). Many PR3-eligible rowers will continue to come from high-school and collegiate programs, while USRowing will need to look more broadly to find and recruit athletes for PR1 and PR2 events.

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Rowing – A Sport That Welcomes Everyone

Diversity Consultant, Colella Associates
Diversity Consultant, Colella Associates

This Talk in Three Sentences: Diversity is a quality of a group that signifies that it has a variety of individuals, based on a number of different characteristics, some controllable, and some less so, like age, gender, sexual orientation, race, culture, location, income level, and experience. Inclusion, on the other hand, is about how well you make every member of your boathouse feel like they matter. Building an inclusive culture at our boathouses requires us to do our own intense reflection on what barriers at our boathouse make people feel excluded.

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Masters Monday

An Inclusive Vision for the Future of Masters Rowing

Co-Founder at Faster Masters, Entrepreneur and Global Advocate for Masters Rowing
Co-Founder at Faster Masters

This Talk in Three Sentences: Masters represent a significant opportunity to grow the sport for rowing, but their needs are so varied that it can be a challenge to attract and retain masters at your club. Many masters want at least one of the following, so consider them when designing your programming: quality equipment, a training program to follow (even self-guided), a social atmosphere to meet similar people, and masters-specific education on how to age well in the sport. Be transparent about your policies and expected behaviors, and when in doubt, ask your rowers for feedback on how the club can better serve their needs.

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Planning a Rowing Season for Masters

Olympian, esteemed Coach, former Vice Chair of USRowing, and co-Founder of All-American Rowing Camp
Co-Founder, All-American Rowing Camp

This Talk in Three Sentences: Successful planning requires masters to be intentional about their goals for each season. Many rowers miss the opportunity during winter training to match their rigging in the boat to their position on the erg, so it is important to be aware of your rigging numbers to make the best of your erg time. Rig for proper posture and comfort to avoid injury and promote longevity in the sport.

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Strength Training for Masters

Creator at Rowing Stronger

This Talk in Three Sentences: Strength training is a crucial part of a year-round training plan to get healthy, avoid injuries, build strength and power, and fill in the gaps of training that rowing does not address. Rowers should incorporate strength training in each of these movement patterns: hinge, squat, push/press, pull, shoulder coordination, rotational and lateral hip training, and core. Modifications to training tempo, set/rep counts, and rest time between sets can shift training benefits, so be intentional about your training goals for each session.

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