JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville University men's rowing program and newly-hired head coach Marci Robles are eager to race and will get the opportunity this weekend as they officially open their fall schedule at the First Coast Head Race on the St. Johns River.
The Green and Gold last competed in the Dad Vails Regatta where the Freshman/Novice Eight won the Toby Wallace Bowl. Since then lots has changed and yet plenty has stayed the same.
At the helm of the program is Robles, the first woman head coach of a Division I men's rowing team, who joined the Dolphins in August after spending the last five seasons at Gonzaga and Georgetown.
JU also welcomes eight freshmen to its squad and is tasked with getting the fresh faces acclimated to collegiate rowing and the style of JU rowing, in particular.
Though much has changed within the program, one thing remains the same – the desire to be great on the water and in the community. The Dolphins will race four boats this weekend in the Varsity Eight and Varsity Four events and will take on Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Crew Club and Florida State.
Varsity 4 A: Stephen McDonald (coxswain); 4: Luke Myhree; 3: Shane Barnett; 2: Victor Gargaun; Bow: Travis Pulliam
Interview with Coach Robles
In the midst of her busy schedule, Coach Robles sat down to discuss training, goals, team expectations and much more. Check out the interview below:
Q: You've been with the men's team for a little while now, how has it been working with the program?
It has been absolutely wonderful. I am so lucky to be working with this group of guys – they are driven, hard-working, and eager to learn. There's a lot of strength and power on the team, and we're working hard to use that in the most efficient manner in order to maximize speed.
Q: What is your coaching style and how have you infused your teachings (direction) into the team?
I like creating an environment that's light and laidback with the understanding that we still need to be focused, resilient, and relentless in our pursuit of excellence. I'm very technically-focused, so we're working on getting these guys to think critically and be more cerebral while they're rowing.
As far as the direction in which we want this team to head, discipline, consistency, and respect are values that we're really emphasizing this year. Incorporating those values into everything we do in and outside of practice will help us create opportunities in which we can be successful, not just in rowing but in the classroom and in our community as well. The team has really embraced this set of values. Mental preparedness is essential, so we work every day to make sure that we're developing and strengthening that skill.
Q: What are you most looking forward to this fall?
Racing. Our biggest regatta this fall will be the Head of the Hooch in Tennessee. It'll be our first major test, and we're excited to see how we stack up against Michigan, UVA, and FIT – all very strong, talented programs.
Q: How has training been?
Training has been going well! The training program and the kind of stroke I'm coaching are different than what most of these guys are used to, but they're adapting well and are already seeing gains in speed.