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Whitman Crew is proud of our talented Men’s and Women’s Coaching Staff who all have a reputation for excellence.  Their collective commitment to growing strong rowers, who evolve into focused and principled student athletes is a hallmark of our team’s mission.

Kirk Shipley

Head & Women's Varsity Coach

Head Coach Kirk Shipley enters his second decade both as history teacher and coach at Walt Whitman High School. Originally from Boston, he rowed in high school before competing on the varsity heavyweight team at the University of Pennsylvania.

Spring 2013 marks his 38th season of coaching. In that time, he has worked with Junior Men, Women's Novice and Varsity programs at Woodrow Wilson as well as Whitman High Schools. In addition, he has coached Junior Men and Women's programs in the fall and summer at Thompson Boat Center and Water Street Rowing. He started the Open Men's program at TBC Racing in the summer of 2005 and currently, he is the Junior Women's Coach.

In 2002-03, Coach Shipley became the Girls Varsity Coach. In his eleven years at the helm, the Freshman Women's and 2nd Varsity Eights have each made the final at Stotesbury three times. 2011 and 2012 have been the team's finest years yet, with the Women sweeping the Maryland State Championship, winning the Varsity and JV events in the 4+ and 8+. The team went on to win the Varsity and JV Eights at the WMIRA Championship, taking home the Women's Team Championship. This was the first time since 1999 that the V8 had won. The 2V went on to make the final at the Stotesbury Cup, and the Varsity 8+ qualified for and competed in the USRowing Youth National Championship. Not to be outdone, the 1V were silver medalists in the Women's Junior 8+ at the SRAAs in 2012.

Dusan Nikolic

Varsity Men - Head Coach

Dusan Nikolic is the Varsity Men’s Coach for Whitman Crew. Prior to joining our program he was the Program Manager and Head Coach for Hingham Rowing Association outside Boston, Massachusetts. During his tenure there, not only did the size of their program double, but their success on the water increased dramatically. Dusan has over nine years of experience both coaching, and in program management at the collegiate and high school levels. In addition to Hingham, he has coached for respected programs such Pocock Rowing Center in Seattle, Union Boat Club and Lincoln Maritime Center. 

Dusan has achieved success in the sport of rowing as both a Coach and a competitor. He coached Men's Quadruple Sculls to a Gold Medal at the US Rowing's Youth National Championships. Dusan was a recruited collegiate athlete and rowed at the University of Washington during all four years of college. During his college career at Washington his team won numerous medals, including gold in the junior varsity eight at the 2004 IRA Championships.  At Washington, it is worth noting that he only lost to Cal three times in twenty-one races.  

Dusan was born and raised in Serbia, and before moving to America for college, he had the honor of competing on the Serbian National team where he finished ninth in a pair at the 2002 Under 23 World Championships in Genoa, Italy.  

Shayla Birath

Novice Women - Head Coach

Lee Rumpf

Varsity Women - Assistant Coach


Varsity Men -  Assistant Coach

Mark Roberts will be assisting with Men's Varsity squad this fall.  Mark graduated from Gonzaga College High School in 2014, where he rowed for 4 years.  As a rower in the Varsity 8 at Gonzaga, Mark won two Stotesbury Cup championships and one SRAA championship.  He went on to row for 4 years at the University of Pennsylvania for the lightweight team, where he was elected captain his senior year. During his tenure at Penn, he achieved 2 bronze medals at the Eastern Sprints in 2017 and 2018, and one silver medal at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships in 2017. He’s excited to bring his knowledge and experience to Whitman Crew!


Julia will be assisting with coaching Novice and Varsity squads for the 2018 fall season after graduating in May 2018.  Julia has been rowing for 8 years and was a part of the Thompson Boat Center family for multiple seasons. In high school, Julia was the captain of her team during both her junior and senior years. She was a division one lightweight rower at Villanova University, and had the opportunity to race at the Women’s Henley Regatta in England. During her time on the team, Villanova lightweights were ranked 8th nationally. She also helped her team medal in the CAA conference championships twice during her collegiate rowing career, a feat that had previously not been accomplished for the past ten years of Villanova rowing’s history. Although her time as a collegiate rower is over, Julia is not quite ready to leave the sport that gave her so much, and is excited to show the novices how great rowing can be.

Professionally, Julia is extremely interested in international and youth development. In February 2019, Julia will be going to Senegal as a Peace Corps volunteer. She loves to travel and connect with new and different people, and is very excited to connect with and empower the incoming novices of Whitman crew.


Novice Men - Head Coach

Graham will be coaching the Novice Men this year.  Graham began his rowing career as a rising high school freshman during the summer of  2009, when he first joined the Brunswick School Boat Club in Greenwich, Connecticut. During his four years as a varsity BSBC rower, his proudest accomplishment was being elected team captain for the 2011/2012 fall and spring seasons.

Graham attended Georgetown University. There, former Head Coach Tony Johnson coached Graham into the first varsity boat as a freshman – where he remained for the duration of his career as a HOYA. Under the leadership of Coach Luke Agnini, Graham was given the honor of being elected chief captain of the Men’s Heavyweight Crew team for his final year as a collegiate oarsman. Following his captaincy, Graham received public recognition from both the University’s Athletic Department and affiliated PNC Bank as the 2012 PNC Athlete of the Year.  He graduated from Georgetown University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Economics.

Over the last several years, Graham has been invited and attended under-23 United States  sweep selection camps. His pursuit to make the Senior National Team began in September of 2016 when Graham moved to Princeton, NJ to join the U.S. Training Center – a central hub for most Olympic hopefuls. As an aspiring professional athlete, Graham returned to Washington, D.C. in the fall of 2017 to train with the Potomac Boat Club’s High Performance Program. Graham recently worked with McLean Crew Club as their Freshman/Novice Coach, leading them to their first-ever Virginia State Championship in the Boy’s Freshman Eight.  Graham’s enthusiasm for rowing stems from the invaluable life lessons he learned as an oarsman. HE firmly believes that rowing crew is an endeavor worthy of anyone’s best effort because the path of an oarsman is one of self-discovery. Graham is determined to teach athletes about a sport of passion and strong character in hope of contributing to their development as young adults, on and off the water.